Tuesday, May 6, 2014

This could get ugly


     Let the head games - and, quite possibly, the headhunting - begin.
     With the Canadiens and Bruins tied at a game apiece ahead of tonight's encounter at the Bell Center, the inevitable gamesmanship and ill-will have started creeping into the 34th playoff series between hockey's two most bitter rivals.  Boston defencemen Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug made an almost insultingly amateurish attempt to unsettle Carey Price after the Bruins' stunning Game 2 comeback by suggesting Price is weak on high shots - comments that Price rightly dismissed as irrelevant.  Price was the best player on either team in the first two games, and was more rattled by temporarily losing his two dogs than he is by anything the Bruins have thrown at him - on the ice or in the media.
     Where the verbal jousting gets interesting is between the coaches.  Michel Therrien openly mocked Claude Julien's complaint that the Bruins put up with a lot of "crap" in Game 2 - a thinly-veiled reference by Julien to Montreal's six power play opportunities versus three for Boston. There was nothing veiled about the response from Therrien, who scoffed that attempting to influence the officials through the media is a longstanding Bruins tradition.
     The sniping is all pretty transparent and to be expected when there's a massive media presence and a three day break between games, but the facade of mutual respect is crumbling.  There is a visceral emnity that defines the relationship between the Canadiens and Bruins, and if that genie is out of the bottle - which it appears to be - Games 3 and 4 at the Bell Center are going to make the first two games in Boston look like...well, a tea party.

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