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Chris Nilan on D&C: ‘If anybody has an edge in any way in this series, it’s Boston’ 04.30.14 at 10:16 am ET
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Former Canadiens and Bruins forward Chris Nilan joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to discuss the upcoming playoff series between Montreal and Boston. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Canadiens and Bruins met four times during the regular season, with Montreal winning three and Boston winning one. Despite that, the Bruins finished with the best record in the NHL and are considered not only the best team in the Eastern Conference but the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. Nilan sees Boston as having the slight advantage because of its tough, hard-nosed approach.

“If anybody has an edge in any way in this series, it’€™s Boston, and I think it’€™s the edge physically and size-wise,” Nilan said. “Montreal, I think they’€™re a better skating team, but if Boston takes that away from them, and they’ve done it before, then the Canadiens will be less effective. If Montreal can get their skating game going, and they have good support in all the areas of the ice, and they’€™re willing to pay the price, they’€™re willing to go the areas that are difficult to go to, then they can have success.”

Nilan, a Boston native who played for the Canadiens for 10 years and the Bruins for two years, has seen the rivalry from both sides.

“When you’€™re in it and you’€™re involved in it, you quickly realize how difficult it is to play against — I mean when you’€™re on either side,” Nilan said. “I was on both sides, I was in Montreal, and being in Montreal playing against the Bruins back in the day was extremely difficult. You’€™re always in for a tough game. You had to fight, you had to take the hit. You had to do some things that were very uncomfortable.

“It was the same for the Bruins when I was there. The same thing. Both teams come on at each other. Both teams dislike each other. And it doesn’t matter back in ‘€™53 or what happened in ‘€™79, but it all builds and it all lends credence to the tradition of such a great rivalry.”

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Chris Nilan, Montreal Canadiens, NHL
Zdeno Chara proves again why he’s captain of the Bruins, and owner of the hardest shot on the team 04.26.14 at 10:10 pm ET
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Apparently Zdeno Chara believes in speaking softly and carrying a big stick, and an even bigger shot.

In the moments after he helped the Bruins eliminate the Red Wings with 100 MPH power play rocket at the end of the second period, Chara didn’t want to look ahead to Montreal.

Instead, he wanted to focus only on the effort of his teammates and how much he appreciated advancing to the second round in a series win that was much tougher than a 4-1 outcome in favor of the Bruins.

“Well, that series was much tougher than maybe the results showed,” Chara said. “Detroit is a really good team with a great system, great players. We were just able to play our game and stay on top of it. It wasn’€™t a one-sided series; it was much closer, like I said than 4-1 showed. I think that we handled it well, we came into this series ready and we got the job done.”

The key moment of the game came when Brendan Smith, Reilly’s brother, took a bad cross checking penalty in the final 15 seconds of the second period, creating a 4-on-3 power play chance for the Bruins. The Bruins did what Cup contenders do, they took advantage as Patrice Bergeron won a battle near the far boards and fed Chara, who was all alone in the high slot. With 3.8 seconds left in the period, Chara let fly with a laser.

“Well we had only a few seconds left and [it was] kind of a 50-50 puck down low,” Chara said. “We won the battle for the puck and Bergy just showed how quickly he can see the opening and made a really great pass to me. I mean – I was emotional. It was a big game and a big goal. So, I’€™m not afraid to show it.”

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, NHL
Mike Petraglia, DJ Bean break down Bruins’ first round win, look ahead to the Habs at 9:15 pm ET
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WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and DJ Bean break down the Bruins’ 4-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings Saturday in Game 5 of their first-round series at TD Garden. The win clinched the series and set up a second-round date between the Bruins and their archrival Montreal Canadiens, with the Bruins holding home ice advantage. The series will likely start next weekend in Boston, giving both teams a chance to get well rested.

Read More: Boston Bruins, DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia, Montreal Canadiens
Tuukka Rask, Bruins earn a ‘breather’ while getting ready for ‘pretty familiar’ Canadiens at 8:03 pm ET
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Here we go again.

Depending on whom was asked in the Bruins dressing room after Saturday’s 4-2 series clinching win over the Detroit Red Wings, the Montreal Canadiens are either just another opponent ahead in the playoffs or the obvious arch-rival that awaits in a long series.
Perhaps Vezina Trophy finalist Tuukka Rask had the best perspective after stopping 31 of 33 shots Saturday to lead the Bruins into the second round.

With the Flyers-Rangers and Penguins-Blue Jackets assured of going at least six games, the Bruins are assured of not starting their series until late next week, possibly as late as next Saturday at TD Garden. The team has Sunday off.

“I think people tend to make it a huge deal outside our locker room, but we’€™ve learned over the years that the more focus resting on our own doing and keep the focus on us, we get the better results, so for me and for everybody else I think it’€™s just another series we want to win and [we'€™re] looking forward to it,” Rask said. “They have a great team, so it’€™s going to be tough, but we’€™ll see.

“They’€™re a quick team. They’€™re a talented team, so I’€™m sure it’€™ll be entertaining for the fans. We’€™ll take a breather here for a couple days and then we’€™ll see when it starts, but we’€™ll enjoy this win today and then we’€™ll move on.”

Rask knows that while Detroit came in with the reputation of having a lot of speed, Montreal will be on a whole new level. Throw in familiarity, and the Bruins goalie knows full well what is in store for him.

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Stanley Cup Playoffs
Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins’ message to Canadiens was, ‘You cannot beat us in a long series, because we will just wear you down’ 03.26.14 at 1:17 pm ET
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Andy Brickley

Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ loss to Montreal, the upcoming Chicago game, Dennis Seidenberg and the Seventh Player Award. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

The 12-game win streak came to an end on Monday against the Canadiens, but the Bruins were able to get a point as they forced overtime with a goal from Patrice Bergeron in the third period. Brickley wasn’t concerned with the physicality that the Bruins showed and thought they picked the right game to be that way.

“There was some undisciplined play by the Bruins, retaliatory in nature, throughout the course of the hockey game,” Brickley said. “But if there was ever a game on the schedule, that was the time to do it. I think it helps send a little bit of a subtle message, but still try to play the game, play the game to win, which I thought they did. It wasn’t about the streak, it was about continuing to play the right way, coming into their identity.”

Added Brickley: “If you’€™re going to play Montreal in a seven-game series, I think part of that message was, ‘€˜You can’€™t beat us. You cannot beat us in a long series, because we will just wear you down.’€™ ”

While the streak is over, the Bruins own the best record in the Eastern Conference. To Brickley, now is the time for them to start focusing on the postseason.

“€œYou hear it all the time, ‘Just one game at a time,’ and so on,” Brickley said. “€œBut they’re looking big picture given the position that they’ve put themselves in, and that’s a favorable one. … It’s really all about getting prepared for postseason, so results don’€™t take on as great a meaning as they normally would.”

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Kevan Miller, Montreal Canadiens
Thomas Vanek on why he dominates Bruins: ‘You want to play your best against the best teams’ 03.11.14 at 1:41 pm ET
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Thomas Vanek has 61 career points against the Bruins. (AP)

Thomas Vanek has 61 career points against the Bruins. (AP)

MONTREAL — The fact that Thomas Vanek has produced big-time against the Bruins in his career isn’t exactly a secret. Frequently referred to as a “Bruins-killer,” the 30-year-old winger has 30 goals and 31 assists for 61 points against the Bruins in 53 career games.

When that type of offense was being put up with the Sabres and Islanders (he had a goal and three assists in three games against Boston in his four-month stint with the Islanders), he was a nuisance for the Bruins. Now that he’s with the Canadiens after a deadline-day shocker, he could be a big problem.

On Tuesday, Vanek participated in his first practice with the Canadiens after playing in two games for them (zero points, minus-1 rating). After it, he downplayed his dominance against the B’s.

“I think numbers are numbers. Sometimes they’re overblown,” he said. “For me, I don’t prepare any different. It’s just another game, really. They’re a good team and you’ve got to be ready.”

While he shrugged off his statistics, Vanek did venture a guess as to why he always seems to have big games against Boston.

“The last four or five years, to me, Boston has been one of the better teams in the league,” he said. “You want to play your best against the best teams, but again, I think sometimes just the numbers are the numbers. I can’t really tell you why that is, but I can tell you that it’s a big game, it’s a great team and you want to play in big games.”

Vanek isn’t the only Canadien who performs well against the Bruins, as Montreal has taken both of the teams’ meetings this season and has won its last five games against Boston dating back to last season.

That doesn’t mean the Habs will take the B’s lightly, as the Bruins are a point out of first place in the Eastern Conference and are 7-0-3 in their last 10 road games.

‘€œFirst of all, the Bruins, this is a good hockey team,” Habs coach Michel Therrien said. “They are battling with Pittsburgh right now for first place in the conference and every game is a new challenge. Tomorrow is no different and it’€™s a huge challenge for us.’€

Vanek has played mostly with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta in his two games for Montreal. Therrien really wants Vanek to be a fit with Plekanec, one of the better two-way centers in the league, so he intends to keep him on that line for as long as it takes for the trio to work.

With a pair of games for the Canadiens under his belt, Vanek is still looking for his first goal with the Canadiens. Wednesday night, in his first home game with the team and against the team he’s long dominated, would seem to be a pretty strong candidate.

Whether or not he gets that first goal Wednesday, the addition of Vanek has certainly changed the look of the Eastern Conference and has added more fuel to an already-intense rivalry.

Read More: Montreal Canadiens, Thomas Vanek,
Claude Julien: Patrice Bergeron and Gregory Campbell ‘cleared’ for practice, not games yet 09.11.13 at 1:02 pm ET
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Claude Julien speaks to reporters Wednesday at the opening of Bruins training camp in Boston. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Claude Julien speaks to reporters Wednesday at the opening of Bruins training camp in Boston. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

On the first day of training camp, Bruins coach Claude Julien announced what would likely be considered good news by all Bruins followers.

Patrice Bergeron and Gregory Campbell both passed their conditioning drills and have been cleared for full practice with the team. Bergeron suffered a punctured lung, a broken rib, a separated shoulder and damaged cartilage at the end of the Stanley Cup finals in late June. Campbell suffered a broken right leg blocking a slap shot from Evgeni Malkin in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

“They’re going to practice with us, they’re going to be on the ice,” Julien announced Wednesday afternoon during his first full press conference of camp. “When it comes time to play those exhibition games, it’ll be obviously a conversation again with our trainers, making sure that if they’re going to play, there’s not a risk factor.”

The Bruins open their seven-game preseason next Monday night in Montreal against the Canadiens, and it’s unlikely either player would be ready to play, though Julien did leave some wiggle room on Wednesday.

“Right now, I would tell you that they would not be cleared to play a game if we started today but that might chance in the upcoming day or in a week from now,” Julien said. “They can practice with the team. It’s just about playing in an exhibition game.”

Julien also confirmed that everyone who took the conditioning test on Wednesday passed. Julien said he took the excellent conditioning of his team as a sign of where they’re at as a group.

“I don’t think I’m going to need time in camp to assess [conditioning or mentality],” Julien said. “I feel it right now. I think our group is in the right place. I like the feeling of our hockey club right now. These tests today just kind of solidified what I thought. Guys are in great shape. It would’ve been easy guys, after finishing so late, to just kind of shut ‘er down for the summer. But they’ve kept themselves in great and they look excited to get off to a new start here.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Gregory Campbell, Montreal Canadiens
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