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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
Kevan Miller returns with a vengeance and sets tone for Bruins Game 2 win 04.21.14 at 9:10 am ET
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Kevan Miller returned to the lineup Sunday and imposed his will early and often. (AP)

Kevan Miller returned to the lineup Sunday and imposed his will early and often. (AP)

It took exactly 72 seconds for Kevan Miller to make his presence felt in Sunday’s series-evening win over the Red Wings at TD Garden.

Just 29 seconds into his first defensive shift, Miller crushed Detroit left wing Drew Miller along the defensive boards to the right of Tuukka Rask on a dump in by the Wings.

The hit set the tempo and immediately got the Garden crowd into a game the Bruins desperately needed on Easter Sunday.

“Happy to be able to be out there so I was excited,” Miller said. “I think as a team we kind of wanted to do that, come out early, come out on our toes. It’s always good to try and get a hit to get going early.”

Of course, Miller was just happy to be on his skates himself after the last week when a virulent stomach bug made its way through the Bruins room, also hitting fellow D-man Matt Bartkowski.

“It was tough, started earlier in the week and kind of persisted,” Miller said. “I know it was the same for a number of guys. Me and Bart seemed to have it pretty bad. Just getting fluid back in me, trying to do my best there.

“It was tough. After practice is when things really went south. Just kind of unfortunate.”

The Bruins clearly missed Miller’s physical presence in a 1-0 Game 1 loss. But after the hit on Drew Miller, Miller and the Bruins were most definitely into the flow of the game. Miller didn’t let up there.
In his next shift four minutes later, Miller took out Daniel Alfredsson. Miller had two loud, energizing hits before the Bruins even had a shot on goal.

A minute and a half later, Wings goalie Jimmy Howard decided to play a gamble and throw a puck off the side boards. It backfired when Justin Florek collected the puck, spun and fired a shot under the pads of the scrambling goalie for a 1-0 Bruins lead.

“He stepped up for us huge this year with the absence of some key D-men that we lost throughout the year, and to see him step up like he did here, and how he’€™s been playing throughout the year, has been great to see,” Milan Lucic said. “He’€™s a physical guy, he’€™s a real competitor, and you saw that here tonight, like you said, especially in the first five minutes.”

“Millsy, right from the start, I thought he helped set the tone with a couple of big hits, and I think they were within the first five minutes. I mean, he looks like he’€™s about to get hit and he still hits the other way, so he reverses and he brings a lot of energy, but he still moves the puck well and he’€™s a tough guy to beat but he’€™s just ‘€“ he’€™s a very strong competitor and it was great to have him back on the lineup and set that tone early,” added Jarome Iginla.

But perhaps no one appreciated having Miller back than captain Zdeno Chara, who was busy keeping Reilly Smith’s brother out of his face. With Miller back, Chara doesn’t have to carry the whole burden of enforcing the physical style that the Bruins needed so badly in Game 2.

“It’€™s nice to have him back,” Chara said. “It probably wasn’€™t fun for him the last few days, but I thought he handled it really well and he played a strong game.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Kevan Miller, NHL
Jimmy Howard says Red Wings don’t need to ‘prove manhood’ against Bruins 04.20.14 at 7:06 pm ET
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Zdeno Chara gets into a scrap with Brendan Smith at the end of the first period Sunday. (AP)

Zdeno Chara gets into a scrap with Brendan Smith at the end of the first period of Sunday’s Game 2. (AP)

After giving up four goals on 29 shots Sunday, including a bizarre momentum-generating tally on Boston’s first goal, Jimmy Howard still feels confident going against the Bruins — that is, if the Red Wings can do one thing.

“I think we’ve got to stay out of the BS out there and just play whistle to whistle, and not worry about getting into the scrums or anything like that, and proving your manhood out there,” Howard said after the Bruins captured Game 2 Sunday, 4-1, at TD Garden.

The last part might be a word of friendly advice to teammate Brendan Smith, who got into it with Zdeno Chara at the end of the first period.

“We just have to skate, play our hockey, don’t get into their motive and get into their scrap, playing real physical,” said Howard. “We just have to get back to playing our game. We knew this was going to be a long series and they played a real solid game today.”

As for Bruins forward Reilly Smith, the brother of Brendan, he perhaps had the best perspective.

“He wouldn’t be the first guy I’d choose in the NHL to go against,” Reilly said of his brother wanting to drop the gloves with Boston’s beast. “He should probably think twice next time.”

Reilly Smith was asked if he could see the laugh and smile on Chara’s face as he prepared to square off.

“Yeah, and I don’t think Chara is too worried,” Smith said. “It’s a moot point in the entire series and the whole outcome of the game.”

Was Reilly worried about his brother’s safety?

“No, not too much,” he said. “That’s the least of my worries right now.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Jimmy Howard, NHL
Jimmy Howard admits Red Wings were ‘pretty lucky’ to beat Bruins 04.18.14 at 11:20 pm ET
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It was the key moment of Game 1.

Jarome Iginla fired a centering pass from the right side boards to Milan Lucic with just over three minutes left in regulation. Lucic got a clean piece of the puck for a redirect on Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard. It appeared to be the perfect pass and perfect chance in a game that had precious few of each.

But instead of the puck finding it’s way past Howard, the Detroit goalie got just enough to flick the puck wide of the goal mouth and out of harm’s way.

“It was a fortunate save,” Howard said. “It was pretty lucky. [Lucic] stuck his stick out and got a lot on it and it sort of just spun off my glove and I was able to get just enough on it. I was pretty lucky.”

The momentum swing didn’t end there. The pendulum, as it often does in a game like Friday night, swung completely the other way leading to a Red Wings rush up the ice. Wings veteran forward Pavel Datsyuk came across the Bruins blue line and, using the collision of Justin Abdelkader and Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton as a screen, fired a shot that beat Tuukka Rask on the far side for the game’s only goal and a 1-0 Detroit win.

“He was by himself there so I’m just thinking a shot there and then he drags it across and releases from our D’s legs so you just try to get the puck in your eyes and I couldn’t,” Rask said of Datsyuk’s shot. “It squeaked by me. Usually he tries to make a pass but I thought he was by himself there. I just couldn’t see it.

“It still went through me so I thought I should have it. But I didn’t see it.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Jarome Iginla, Jimmy Howard
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