Tonight in Boston, the Montreal Canadiens will begin their Eastern Conference Semi-Final series against the Boston Bruins. These two Original Six franchises have had a long history against each other and this upcoming series will only be the next chapter in a very long series of novels.
The Bruins had to get through a resilient Detroit Red Wing team, ending their series this past Saturday April 26th.
On the other side of the ice, the Canadiens swept through the Tampa Bay Lightning, ending their series on Wednesday April 23rd . They will have had eight days off since Max Pacioretty stunned the Lightning with less than 40 seconds left to play.
The Canadiens have not had eight days off in a row since the Olympic break ended on February 26th. Coming out of that layoff they won two of their first three games, all coming in overtime.
One of the most important factors in the playoffs is keeping tired teams fresh and certainly eight days off will do the trick. Players were given ample time to heal aches and pains that have accumulated from the regular season and post-season, but was eight days off too many?
I am not saying the Canadiens sat home and ate potato chips all week long. They went to the rink and had team practices; however, a week of practice is not equivalent to actual games. The grind of the regular season is something they have become accustomed to and almost every athlete is a creature of habit.
When the puck drops tomorrow night at the TD Garden, it will be necessary for the Canadiens to get off to a fast start and get their legs back quickly. It may take them a period or two to get back into the flow of playoff hockey after an extended break.
I think the Bruins coaching staff will be telling an already aggressive Bruins lineup to attack early and often, as the Canadiens may not be fully “in gear”.
This will certainly be a fun series to watch and most hockey fans can agree that this has all the indications of being a long one, possibly going seven games. The Canadiens won the season series 3-1, so the top-seeded Bruins will be hungry for revenge.
Lets just hope the Canadiens are ready for game one, as their elongated period of rest is about to come to a screeching halt.