BOSTON (CBS) — The second-round of the playoffs finally gets underway Thursday night for the Boston Bruins, as they welcome the Montreal Canadiens to the TD Garden for what will be another heated matchup in the historic rivalry.
For Bruins forward Reilly Smith, who just had his first taste of postseason hockey in Boston’s first-round series against the Detroit Red Wings, he’s ready to lace them up in one of hockey’s greatest matchups.
“It’s a pretty historic rivalry. There are 33 prior meetings between the two organizations, so there is going to be a lot of passion and a lot of bragging rights on the line,” Smith told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s The Adam Jones Show on Wednesday night. “Guys are always giving little tidbits and pointers to help when you go through these series; media is a huge factor in it. They say to stay on an even keel and focus on the structure that got us this far and focus on the game plan.”
Smith says the Canadiens and Red Wings, who Boston took care of in five games, have very similar styles, which will benefit the Bruins.
“Montreal plays a similar game to Detroit, which favors us a little having that one under our belt. We struggled against Detroit during the regular season, but we slowed them down in the neutral zone, because they have a lot of fast forwards and a lot of momentum moving up and down the ice. Montreal is the same way; we struggled with them during the regular season and have a similar game plan,” he said. “We have to clog it up in the neutral zone to slow them down and get back to Bruins hockey.
“They’re small and quick, they’re agile and have great goaltending. It’s a pretty balanced attack,” he said. “There are a few points where we might be able to exploit them and we have to focus on that.
Smith played at Montreal’s Bell Centre for the first time this season, and is eager hit the ice there in a playoff atmosphere.
“It was a fun experience when you have 20,000 French-Canadians yelling at you. That’s something you’ll always remember,” said Smith. “It gives you a little boost when there are that many people trying to watch you fail. It gives you a little extra to try to prevail and show them what you got.”
The Bruins’ second line struggled a bit against the Red Wings, with Patrice Bergeron leading the way with five points (one goal, four assists) while Smith chipped in with a goal and assists and Brad Marchand went scoreless. Marchand, who rarely misses a chance to chirp at his teammates, missed three open net opportunities in the first-round. Smith was asked if he or any of the Bruins gave Marchand a hard time for those misses, maybe giving the forward a little payback.
“Maybe a little bit,” Smith said with a chuckle. “Every now and then you’re able to throw a little back at him. Luckily, we didn’t need those goals during that series, so maybe he’s just saving them for this one.”
Listen to the full interview: