A look at the Eastern Conference semifinals: Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens
Season series: Canadiens, 3-1.
Difference makers: Boston’s Tuukka Rask, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goalie, compiled the league’s best goals-against average (1.16) and save percentage (.961) in Round 1. Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban absorbs more abuse from fans on the road than almost anyone in the league and has proven capable of making game-altering plays. Usually, for the better.
Special teams: Boston converted 6 of 16 power plays in Round 1 — hulking defenseman Zdeno Chara, who now sets up around the opponent’s net, was the only Bruins player to score two — while allowing two goals in 20 short-handed situations. The Bruins’ penalty-killers are on a 53-for-56 roll in their past 15 playoff games. Although the Canadiens swept Tampa Bay in Round 1, they didn’t do it with dominant special teams. Montreal’s penalty-kill (71.4 percent) is the lowest-rated of any team still in the playoffs and its power play (15.4 percent) was lackluster against the Lightning after ending the regular season in an 0-for-23 slump.
Noteworthy: The Bruins and Canadiens are meeting in the playoffs for the 34th time, most of any North American pro teams. Montreal has won 24 of 33. … The Canadiens and Detroit, which lost to Boston in five games in Round 1, were the only teams to beat the Bruins more than twice in the regular season. … Boston gave up six goals to the Red Wings, tying the team record for the fewest allowed in a series of five or more games. … Canadiens RW Brendan Gallagher had three goals in the four games against Tampa Bay. … C David Krejci was the only Boston player to record at least one point while having a negative plus-minus rating (minus-1) in Round 1. … Montreal, which has not played since April 22, outscored Tampa Bay, 13-7, in 5-on-5 play. … Boston looks to be the deepest, most-balanced team in the Eastern Conference, if not the entire league.
Who will win: Bruins in six.