The Montreal Canadiens took to the Bell Sports Complex ice on Sunday for a third straight day of practice since completing their opening-round sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Only this time, they were preparing for a date with the 2013-14 Presidents' Trophy winning Boston Bruins, who secured their spot in the second round after defeating the Detroit Red Wings in five games.
Meeting for the fourth time in seven seasons and for the 34th occasion all-time, the Canadiens and Bruins get together in an Eastern Conference second round series that begins this week.
"You're going to have to fight for everything. There's no such thing as an easy game when you play against Boston," Canadiens defenceman Josh Gorges said following practice. "They're very well structured. They play a great team game. You're going to have to fight for your real estate, you're going to have to fight to get on the inside and to get second chances in front of the net.
"If we're going to succeed, we're going to have to do everything we can in the dirty areas."
Gorges, who will face the Bruins in the postseason for the third time in his NHL career, was unable to take part in the Canadiens' most recent playoff meeting with Boston in 2011 after undergoing season-ending knee surgery.
"What the Bruins have done in the last few years in the playoffs has been as good as or better than any other team in the league," added Gorges. "We know we have a great challenge ahead of us. It's going be hard. It's going to be a long series. We've got to be prepared for that."
The last time the Bruins and Canadiens met in the playoffs was in 2011, when Boston ousted Montreal in seven games in its march to winning the Stanley Cup championship.
No teams have come close to meeting in the playoffs as many times as the Bruins and Canadiens. The 170 games between the Bruins and Canadiens are the most for playoff opponents; the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs are next with 117.
"They're a good team; they know how to win. They've shown that by winning the Cup a few years back and making the Stanley Cup Finals last year," winger Thomas Vanek said of the much-anticipated series. "I know TD Garden is a tough building to play in, but so is the Bell Centre. For us to have success or for anyone to have success, you're going to have to beat some really good teams in order to win that ultimate prize. The Bruins are one of those teams."
The Bruins lost three of their four games against the Canadiens this season, including two games played in Boston. The Canadiens have won six of the past seven games and are 351-264-103-7 in the regular season against the Bruins.
"The Bruins are the same team they were in the regular season. That's what makes them so good," defenceman Mike Weaver said. "They're going to be an extremely tough team to play against and it will be a great challenge for us. That's what playoffs are all about. You hear a lot of things about that rivalry, but playoffs take things to another level."
Head coach Michel Therrien made a change to his line up at practice on Sunday, opting to put a healthy Travis Moen on the fourth line - a move to bring in more veteran presence against an experienced Bruins team.
Here is Sunday's Practice Lines:
Pacioretty - Desharnais - Vanek
Prust - Plekanec - Gallagher
Bourque - Eller - Gionta
Moen* - Briere - Weise
Bournival - White - Parros
Markov - Emelin
Gorges - Subban
Bouillon - Weaver
Murray - Tinordi
*In first round, Michael Bournival played left wing on the fourth line. Moen skating in that spot represents the one lineup change in preparation for the Bruins.
The NHL is expected to release the schedule for the second round on Monday.