MONTREAL -- Claude Julien knows the numbers between the Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens. The Black and Gold have lost five straight games to the Habs, and they haven’t beaten their NHL arch-rivals in over a full year. Most of the games have been tight one-goal decisions over the last few seasons, but the Bruins laid a 4-1 egg at TD Garden the last time they suited up against the Canadiens at the end of January.
The speed and aggressiveness of players like Daniel Briere, Brian Gionta and Brendan Gallagher really gave the slower, plodding Bruins fits during that eye-opening game.
Tuukka Rask is now 2-10-2 in his career against the Canadiens and now the Habs have Bruins killer Thomas Vanek in their lineup after a deadline day deal. So it’s a fair question to ask whether the Canadiens have Boston’s number at this point, but Julien isn’t buying into those theories.
“I don’t buy into that. There are always teams that you have trouble with during the season, and we’ve seen the results. It’s happened to us in the past, and it’s a different situation in the playoffs,” said Claude Julien. “Right now it’s more of mental thing for us. I can’t stand here and say I’ve seen us play Bruins hockey [against the Canadiens]. We point the finger more at us than saying it’s a bad match-up.
“My message to our team is that we need to see our game. They need to go out there, and play our game while continuing to do the things that we’ve done well lately. That’s where the focus needs to be: not on the team that we’re playing, and not on where we are right now. That’s what we intend to do. We played a great game in Tampa, and we played a great game in Florida. Now it’s a matter of bringing that game here.”
Clearly the Bruins are hitting Montreal at the right time while riding a season-high five game winning streak that’s seen them playing stifling defense (they’ve allowed 20 shots per game in their last four games), and enjoy some scoring depth from all of their forward lines. A win at the Bell Centre, powered by the Bruins playing their tough, disciplined, grinding game, would quell much of the angst about a potential playoff match against the Canadiens.
But a loss will continue the questions surrounding the Bruins as to whether the speed and agitating nature of the Canadiens style of play is something that taps into the weaknesses on this year’s edition of the Black and Gold.