Bruins down 2-0 find themselves fighting for their playoff lives Monday night.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.  Last season the Bruins jumped all over the Philadelphia Flyers and took command of the series, 3 games to nil.  But a meltdown of historic proportions saw their playoff run come to an unfathomable end when they dropped their next 4 games and lost the series to Philly 4-3. 

Tim Thomas for the Boston BruinsIs history repeating?

This year’s edition of the Boston Bruins was supposed to be a more mature, seasoned squad that understood the perils of taking their opponent for granted and would never, ever make that mistake again…or would they?  Well, the opponent may be different but the results thus far are equally as devastating, particularly when you consider their opponent.  The hated Canadiens are making a mockery of the Northeast division champs and Beantown is in mourning as their rabid fans hope for the best but are braced for the worst.

The Montreal Canadiens skated into Boston as heavy underdogs on the NHL odds board in both contests and skated out with a victory in each game.  Shocking, especially to the chalk eaters who backed the B’s in Game 1 and doubled up on them in Game 2.  The only ones who weren’t surprised were wearing the bleau, blanc and rouge and even they must be privately arching their eyebrows.  But one person who believes everything is going according to plan is Montreal coach Jacque Martin, who has preached to his attentive choir the need to stick with his gameplan and not to deviate.  The results were impressive last season when the Habs were an afterthought in the postseason but managed to play themselves right into the Eastern Conference finals.  It looks like Martin’s band of overachievers are at it again and the Bruins are dazed and confused because of it.

Carey Price for the Montreal CanadiensGame 2 saw Boston once again outshoot their northern neighbors, 35-26, but goaltender Carey Price has proven he’s at his best when the money is on the line.  Price outdueled his Vezina Trophy winning counterpart Tim Thomas and has the entire Boston team shaking their collective heads.  Montreal smelled blood immediately when B’s captain Zdeno Chara checked out of the game and checked into Mass General Hospital for an undisclosed illness and dehydration.  Without Chara, Boston seems to lose its swagger and the Canadiens made certain they didn’t muster any of that confidence as they attacked immediately and scored twice before the game was even 2 ½ minutes old.  The Canadiens secured a 3-1 victory on Saturday night and has now put Boston back on their heels as the series shifts to Montreal.  Every game is now a must win for Boston and the pressure must be at a boiling point for a team that imploded so spectacularly last season, only to see it happen all over again. 

Can the Habs stick to the plan?

The Canadiens are playing it smart.  They understand they are no match for the bigger more physical Bruins and refuse to get lured into another blood bath like the one that occurred in Boston in early February.  They also realize power play opportunities must be capitalized upon because the Habs have a more opportunistic power play and a stingier penalty killing unit.  Special teams are one of the few advantages Montreal holds over Boston and it has proven to be the difference.  But will there be a repeat on Monday night?  Well, the Bruins have been getting plenty of shots on Price and have outplayed the Canadiens for the majority of the series but are still down 2-0.  I see another tightly contested contest with two rock solid goalies between the pipes.  Who wins, who loses…who cares?!  We’ll look to cash with the Under once again just as I advised in my column on Saturday’s game.  Watch the defense rule once again and put money in your pocket with Under 5 in the B’s/Habs tilt.