Boston Bruins: Classic playoff matchup vs. Canadiens

After the Boston Bruins defeated the Ottawa Senators 3-1 on Saturday, they learned that their first round playoff opponent would be none other than those pesky guys up north, the Montreal Canadiens.

Photo credit slidingsideways via Creative Commons license

The Canadiens beat the Toronto Maple Leafs last night to secure the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and they will be at the TD Garden to play the B’s starting on Thursday.

Zdeno Chara and 43-year-old Mark Recchi will each be given the day off today by coach Claude Julien as the Bruins wrap up their regular season schedule this afternoon in New Jersey against the Devils.

Goalie Tim Thomas, who stopped 35 shots in Saturday’s win, will also sit today, with Tuukka Rask getting the nod between the pipes. By virtue of sitting, Thomas virtually guarantees that he will set the new mark for save percentage in a single season, at .9382, besting the mark set by Dominic Hasek in 1996 (.9366).

“That’s great, awesome,’’ Thomas told the Boston Globe. “But there is still one more game and as a team we have to focus on that game and take care of business.’’

The business, of course, is the playoffs, and the Bruins will be seeking their first Stanley Cup victory since 1972.

The road to get there will certainly not be easy, starting with the first round. The Canadiens took the season series over the Bruins, 4-2, however the spoked B’s did win the last two matchups, including a convincing 7-0 victory in their last matchup. However, playoff hockey is vastly different, and for the Bruins to continue marching on, they will need production and quality ice time from their fourth line, Daniel Paille, Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell.

Last night, the three combined for a goal and three assists, and provided consistent play throughout the game. It’s that type of skating that Julien knows the Bruins will need in order to get by the pesky Canadiens.

“Those guys are working hard and scoring quality goals,” Julien said.

So, one more game and then the real season begins. For the Bruins, previous disappointments mean nothing. This is a new year.

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