Rested Canadiens will face either Bruins or Red Wings 0
Max Pacioretty of the Canadiens scores the winning goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night. (Martin Chevalier/QMI Agency)
Will the second round be a bruising clash against their No. 1 rival?
Or a rare meeting against an ancient dance partner from yesteryear?
As the Montreal Canadiens get some well-earned rest — such a key element in playoff hockey — their potential foes in Round 2 certainly make up a Tale of Two Cities.
Will it be the Bruins of Boston, the Habs most bitter opponents?
These two dance partners have squared off frequently over the decades and pretty much know every detail of each other’s rosters, down to how each opposing player likes to tape his stick.
Or will it be the Red Wings of Detroit, who used to have frequent post-season wars against the Habs back in the days of Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Maurice (The Rocket) Richard and Doug Harvey? It has been more than three decades since these two legendary franchises have faced off in the playoffs.
Either way, by sweeping the Tampa Bay Lightning in four consecutive games thanks to Max Pacioretty’s dramatic last-minute game-winner in a 4-3 victory Tuesday night, the Habs have provided themselves with some valuable time to heal all those nagging bumps and bruises that accrue this time of year.
All the while, they wait for the winner of the Bruins-Red Wings series, hoping inside that those two teams go the maximum seven games while pounding each other into the ice.
However the first-round Detroit-Boston series plays out, it will go at least until Game 5, which takes place Saturday in Boston.
At that rate, the Habs will have at least a week off.
Here’s a look at the Habs all-time post-season history against both Boston and Detroit.
Habs Versus Bruins
- All-time series: 32
- Record: 24-8
- Most Recent Series: Bruins defeated Habs in seven games in the first round of the 2011 playoffs en route to the Stanley Cup. Nathan Horton scored the winner for Boston in extra time.
- 2013-14 regular season head-to-head: 3-1.
Habs Versus Red Wings
- All-time Series: 12
- Record: 5-7
- Most Recent Series: You have to go back 36 years to 1978, when the Canadiens defeated Detroit in five games, outscoring the Red Wings 24-10 in the process. How long ago was that? Guy Lafleur sparked the Habs offence while Ken Dryden was between the pipes.
- 2013-14 regular season head-to-head: 2-2.
HABS AND HAB-NOTS
Defenceman Alexei Emelin is one of those high-risk, high-reward type of players. Seeing him physically work over Steven Stamkos twice on the same shift in the opening period shows what a key cog he can be. At the same time, his sloppy giveaway in the second period directly led to Ondrej Palat’s shorthanded goal, which narrowed the Montreal lead to 2-1 and gave the Lightning some hope ... How did Rene Bourque escape a goalie interference penalty when he flew into goalie Kristers Gudlevskis in the third period? Bourque was barely being touched by a Lightning player on the play, if at all. It’s lucky Gudlevskis was not hurt ... Lightning forward Ryan Callahan, acquired in the trade that sent Marty St. Louis to the Rangers, went pointless in his past eight and goal-less in nine. Not a good way for a UFA to increase his bargaining power ... Stamkos did not register his first shot on goal until early in the third ... The Lightning have used nine different defencemen in this series. The concept of winning becomes even more difficult to translate into reality when you don’t have any consistency in your lineup from game to game ... How much depth have the Habs shown? Consider that all four lines have registered at least five points in the series ... It’s easy to see why Lightning starter Anders Lindback was given the hook after allowing three goals. On both the second and third Habs goals, his positioning was awful, allowing the shooter far too much room to the far side.
NO KNEED FOR KNEEING
This trend of knee-on-knee hits we’ve seen through the first week of the playoffs definitely has got to stop. The most recent example came Tuesday night when the Red Wings’ Brendan Smith upended the Bruins’ Brad Marchand. Somehow, in what was a flagrant knee, the officials called it “tripping.” Whatever ... Meanwhile, Marchand’s act is wearing thin. He grabbed his right knee after the play. It was the left one that made contact ... Smith’s knee incident comes in a six-day span which also saw a) Chicago’s Bryan Bickell do it to the Blues’ Vladimir Sobotka and b) Matt Cooke’s cheap shot on Colorado’s Tyson Barrie that will leave the Avs defenceman out a month ... Cooke’s in-person hearing will be Wednesday. According to Don Cherry, Cooke should be banned for the remainder of the playoffs — and maybe even more. Can’t argue with Grapes there.
LAST MINUTE OF PLAY
In the first period of the Red Wings 3-1 loss to the Bruins, Detroit was called for a two-many-men on the ice penalty which led to a Boston goal, then had a bad line change result in another puck ending up in their net. When was the last time you saw a Mike Babcock-coached team make two mistakes like that in the same game, let alone the same period?