BOSTON (CBS) – Bruins-Canadiens gets underway this Thursday night at the TD Garden, and what better way to preview the series and gain some perspective than talking to the voice of the Montreal Canadiens, John Bartlett?
Bartlett joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Adam Jones Show Tuesday night and covered a whole host of topics related to the biggest rivalry in the NHL, starting with Montreal’s sweep of Tampa Bay in round one.
Bartlett acknowledges the series would have looked much different if Lightning netminder Ben Bishop were not sidelined with an injury, but a “balanced attack” from all four lines, plus a goaltender in Carey Price that got better as the series progressed, made the four-game sweep possible.
On Price, who missed a few weeks with a lower body injury following the Olympics after securing gold for Team Canada, the 26-year-old goalie has got all of Quebec feeling good heading into the series.
“[Confidence] is high. He’s had a great season and has felt great all year. You can’t discount the Olympic experience and winning gold for Canada and what that did for him — he’s even talked about using that as kind of a playoff pressure experience as well. I wouldn’t see any reason for Price not to have good confidence with his game right now going into this series,” said Bartlett.
This led into a discussion about the Habs’ backup goalie, Peter Budaj. Many of us in these parts found it curious when Montreal coach Michel Therrien started Budaj over Price in the final regular-season matchup between the two teams.
However, Bartlett says his team was just being cautious down the stretch, and suggested if the two teams were closer in the standings perhaps Price would have gotten the start.
“They wanted [Price] to be rested for the playoffs,” he said. “They weren’t gonna catch Boston [in the standings], so it wasn’t as critical a point as it has been in the past.”
Bartlett also called Therrien “a bit of a gambler” as a head coach, and that he used it as a character test to see how his team would perform around the backup Budaj against a very tough Bruins team.
As tough as the Bruins are, the Canadiens had no problem playing against their arch rivals during the regular season, taking 3 out of 4 games against the B’s. Bartlett believes the regular season games are an indication of how the series will unfold.
“The teams are certainly very close when they play each other and that’s the series we’ll see as well. There will be hard fought, intense battles,” he said. “The season series means we’ll be in for some close, tight games.”
After discussing the impact of known Bruins-killer Thomas Vanek to the first line of the Canadiens, the conversation shifted to Canadiens-killers Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic.
It’s been well-documented just how much Habs fans hate Big Z, and after the latest flare-up between Milan Lucic and Alexei Emelin, Lucic isn’t viewed so positively either.
“Oh they’re fan favorites,” joked Bartlett. “They’re fan favorites for sure. I think Zdeno Chara won’t be alone getting the boo birds.”
Listen below for the full discussion, including how the special teams matchup will shake out and much more: