Thursday, May 1, 2014

Habs vs. Bruins; head vs. heart

     It's difficult for Canadiens fans to reconcile what's in their hearts with what they know to be true ahead of tonight's second round Stanley Cup series opener against Boston.
     The Bruins are the best team in the conference - maybe in the league - and anyone who doesn't recognize them as favorites to beat the Habs is being dishonest at best and at worst delusional to the point of requiring outpatient mental health care.  That's not to say that the notion of Montreal beating Boston is crazy.  Bruins fans would be equally disingenuous in saying the Canadiens don't scare the living bejeebus out of them.  The Habs have a special gift for getting inside the Bruins' heads and baiting Boston into resorting to cheap gamesmanship and trotting out the the wheel of excuses.  For reasons that even he can't explain, Bruins goalie Tuuka Rask has historically struggled against the Canadiens, and whether he'll admit it or not, that'll in the back of Rask's mind when the puck drops tonight.  
     Amateur psychology aside, there are practical considerations that work in the Canadiens' favour, not least of which is that they have the consensus best goalie in hockey in Carey Price.  They were also firing on all cylinders in the round one sweep of Tampa, with one significant and potentially decisive exception: the power play, which went just 2 for 13 against the Lightning after finishing the regular season oh for their last 23.  Goaltending and special teams are the difference makers in the playoffs, and the Canadiens need to win the battle on BOTH fronts to beat the Bruins.  It won't be easy against a big, nasty, talented, playoff-seasoned team that knows what it takes to get to the next level.
     My heart says the Habs in seven, but my head says Boston in six.

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