The Canadiens are only too familiar with hearing about their turnaround from last year to this year. I'm sure they are well aware of their polar opposites as they prepare in that team's arena.
And, I'm sure that the Canadiens players and their fans all remember how regular season hotshots turned simple playoff participant as the season without rules began last spring.
They'd better be remembering that an awful lot, in fact, because there within lies a key to their fate this spring. That is, study how the Bruins tripped the Canadiens up and this team may figure out how to pull the inverse.
From a blogger's perspective, I have to say it is very useful to be playing the identical opponents in the first round of the playoffs for two years running. Thanks to the wonder of the archives, I am able to see exactly what I was saying at this point last year, what my fellow bloggers and reporters were saying too.
Predictably, the situation was very upbeat in the Canadiens camp. Most were picking the Canadiens in varieties of 4 or 5 games. All sounds very similar to the Bruins camp this season.
Prior to the first game last year, I don't think I made a prediction. I won't this year either. I believed the Canadiens could win. I knew either team could, though. This was the playoffs. I wrote something about the puzzling way the Bruins piled up points last season (94 in all). They had an average defence, a sub-par attack and a hot and cold goaltender. I called them cagey. I figured they wrested points, a lot of the time by sheer power of will. The playoffs
The Canadiens can take two lessons from this:
1) They pulled a Bruins this year. Sure they blew their early lead, but when it came to crunch time, they slugged it out. They won as many as they had to to make the regular season worthwhile. A team that can look at the last ten games, recognise the need for a good record and pull it off can do the same over 7 games.
2) The Bruins are pretty much that same team. Personnel-wise they are. If you want the truth, the Bruins 09 really only differ form the Bruins 08 by a 28-game run in November and December. Last season they lost there, this season they got 51 points and padded the stats we are wowed by today. Yes 28 games is a formidable achievement, but they are not the first, nor will they be the last, to streak so sweetly. The positive thing is they are not in the midst of that streak now.