And so, to the Bell Centre for game three of the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens.
The teams have had a couple of days to decant their emotions from Saturday’s thrilling Boston comeback – and engage in some low-grade back-and-forth over comments made by Bruins rookies Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug about Montreal goalie Carey Price – but now it’s back to business.
The series is tied 1-1, and no one need emphasize the importance of Game 3 (7 p.m., CBC, RDS).
According to whowins.com, the team that takes a 2-1 series lead ends up advancing about 70 per cent of the time, and the Bruins have won their last 12 game three contests under coach Claude Julien.
Julien brushed aside Monday’s sortie from his counterpart and former junior hockey rival Michel Therrien ("that’s the Bruins,” he said of the gamesmanship) but couldn’t resist getting a shot in.
“I said it yesterday and I can say it again, we hope that people will write the things that were actually said. It’s that Carey Price, I had him for several weeks with Team Canada, he’s one of the best goalies in the National Hockey League. I don’t think we’re here talking about weaknesses or things like that,” Julien said. “It’s pretty obvious that thanks to him his team is very good at the moment, he’s been playing some great hockey from the start. Some things said by a young player were taken out of context, and something bigger was made of it. As I said earlier, we’re looking after our own stuff and we’re keeping the focus on what we need to do on the ice, not off the ice.”
As far as what will happen on the ice, Therrien said he’s not going to get too bogged down in trying to get advantageous match-ups, as the last change in theory will allow him to do.
Asked whether he plans on getting winger Max Pacioretty away from Boston defenceman Zdeno Chara – Julien has had the big Norris finalist on the ice for basically every shift that Pacioretty and his linemates played in the first two games.
“You have to be careful with that. With the defensemen, especially in the first and third periods, hard changes can be made at any moment. The Bruins bench is very close by in the first and the third, so those changes are made quickly and regularly. I don’t want to cut the tempo of a game just to try and match lines against defensemen,” he said.
The Habs are expected to make a couple of lineup changes; though Rene Bourque has recovered from the illness that kept him out of practice on Monday, it’s expected that defenceman Douglas Murray will draft in beside Mike Weaver on the third pair, replacing Francis Bouillon.
It also appears that Brandon Prust, who is believed to be hindered by rib and shoulder ailments, will sit in favour of Travis Moen.
The Bruins are expected to stick with Saturday’s winning lineup.
The game will also be a playoff baptism of sorts for several Boston players, including Hamilton, Krug, and winger Reilly Smith.
Asked whether he would be providing any advice to his young teammates on how to handle the Bell Centre’s super-charged atmosphere, Chara said no.
“The best way is to kind of let them kind of experience it,” he said. “You don’t want to overplay it or underplay it, you just want to let them have that experience on their own.”
The referees for the match-up are Chris Rooney and Tim Peel, Boston agitator Brad Marchand said after the team’s morning skate that discipline will be key.
“I think it’s pretty clear that they’ve got a very good power play, we knew that, and the majority of their goals have come on the power play, so we’ve got to stay out of the box. We’ve got to focus on the game, not what has happened,” he said.
Marchand, a frequent target of the Montreal boo-birds, said he loves playing in the Bell Centre, adding that “I think the crowd’s very emotional here, and anytime something happens they are very loud, and sometimes it can draw the ref’s attention to a certain area or stuff like that. They play very well at home I think because of that emotion, they’re able to get a lot of momentum from that. And it puts a lot of teams on their heels.”