BOSTON (CBS) — For Bruins president Cam Neely, his dislike of the Montreal Canadiens started long before his playing days in Boston.
“My dad was a (Maple) Leafs fan and didn’t like the Canadiens, so it was easy not to like them,” Neely explained to 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Felger & Mazz on Thursday, ahead of Game 1 of the Bruins and Canadiens playoff series. “When I got to Boston it was kind of the same feeling, ‘my dad doesn’t like this team.’”
The Bruins and Canadiens have been rivals since the 1920’s, and this playoff meeting is the 34th of the storied showdown.
“A lot of it has to do with how deep the rivalry goes and how many times you play in the playoffs. From Boston’s perspective, when I got here all you heard about was how they couldn’t beat Montreal in the playoffs. All those things helped fuel the dislike,” said Neely. “When you face a team as much as I did as a player, when you face a team as much as our current tame faces Montreal, both sides are going to have players they dislike just because you play so much and things happen. Then when you get into the playoffs it gets ramped up.”
As for Neely’s keys to beating the Candiens in this series, they’re pretty straight-forward.
“Play our game, don’t take stupid penalties and really just focus on what we need to do to play well,” said Neely. “We have to mind what Montreal does well, but we have to really focus on how we play and what we do when we play well.”
With Montreal’s tendency to goad their opposition into taking bad penalties, keeping their cool will also be must for the Bruins.
“I don’t think we want to trade power play opportunities. We want to play our game, first and foremost. We have to be disciplined and makes sure we’re not the ones retaliating, because that’s what (the officials) always catch,” said Neely. “We need to focus on how we need to play to be successful, pushing the puck and being smart when we get it in, being physical but staying out of the box as much as we can. Really, don’t take stupid penalties.”
Neely also said he thinks his Bruins are a much faster team than many give them credit for.
“We feel that we’re pegged a certain way, and some of the other stuff is overlooked — which I could care less about. For us it’s more, the first game vs Detroit, I felt like we were so focused on Detroit that we stopped playing our game. We showed in that series that we have a good transition, puck-moving defensemen, and some forwards that may not be fast but are quick and dynamic. I feel there are teams out there that have more speed, but I don’t think we’re a slow, lumbering group, that’s for sure.”
Bruins forward Brad Marchand had a tough first round, going scoreless against the Detroit Red Wings. Neely that said that even if Marchand isn’t showing up on the stat sheet, he is usually doing something to help his team win.
“He had a tough time finding the back of the net. He was putting some pressure on himself, but he helps that line in a lot of ways that doesn’t show up on the score sheet,” he said. “Brad, he sometimes puts too much pressure on himself that sometimes it hurts him.”