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Subban ready to take the heat in Boston, predicts a long, tough series

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

BROSSARD, Que. - Everything is magnified when the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins meet in the playoffs, and that's how P.K. Subban likes it.

The flashy Canadiens defenceman is sure to be a target for the Bruins and the TD Garden fans when the two Original Six teams meet for the 34th time in the post-season.

Boston fans tend to boo Subban the same way Montreal fans give it to Zdeno Chara whenever the towering Bruins defenceman touches the puck at the Bell Centre.

"It doesn't matter if I like it or I'm ready for it because it doesn't really dictate how I play or how this team plays," Subban said Monday. "That's the most important thing.

"If they're trying to find ways to get me off my game, that means I'm doing something right."

Montreal is on a lengthy break after sweeping the Tampa Bay Lightning in the opening round, while the Bruins will also be rested after eliminating the Detroit Red Wings in five.

It will be Subban's second career playoff meeting with the Bruins. In 2011, he had two goals and four points as Montreal won the first two games of the first-round series in Boston before going on to lose Game 7 in overtime.

The 2013 Norris Trophy winner expects another long series, but hopes for a different result.

"I've always been a guy that's excited to play in the playoffs because it's meaningful and because it seems like the bigger the stage, the better I play and the more I play," he said. " And when I play more I always play better.

"I think I learned through that series, going up 2-0 in Boston and then losing in seven games. It's not a fun thing to do, but we were that close to beating them and they went on to win the Stanley Cup that year."

The Canadiens won three of four meetings with the Bruins this season, including both games in Boston.

But they will still be underdogs against a Bruins side that is little changed from the one that reached the Stanley Cup final last season and won the Presidents' Trophy for having the most points this past season.

"I'm sure people are going to enjoy the series," said Subban. "I'm predicting it's going to be a long and gruelling series.

"They're better than they were (in 2011) and it's going to be an even tougher series. Trust me, we're not thinking about coming home up 2-0. We know it's going to be a grind."

The Canadiens tend to counter the Bruins' physical play with a game based on quickness and puck pressure. Boston's big men take runs at Subban, who they see as a diver who talks too much on the ice.

Subban, in turn, plays some of his best hockey against Boston.

"I don't consider that any part of my game," said Subban. "I consider playing well as the biggest way of agitating other teams' players—putting the puck in the net, playing physical, having an impact on the game.

"That seems to (make people angry) a lot more than talking or chirping."

Games between the teams often get nasty, including one this season when Boston's Milan Lucic speared defenceman Alexei Emelin in the groin area.

The bad blood has built up over decades of meetings between the teams. It has mostly gone in favour of Montreal, which has a 24-9 record in playoff series against Boston since their first meeting in 1929.

The Bruins have won the last two, however.

"I knew that part of playing for the Montreal Canadiens is there were rivalries and a lot of history," said Subban. "At the end of the day, we'll probably talk about it for the next three or four days but once the puck drops, it doesn't matter what rivalry or history there is.

"It's just a matter of winning. Then, after the game, we'll talk abut history and whatever."

It won't be the first Bruins-Canadiens series for Montreal coach Michel Therrien. During his first stint with the Canadiens, he won a first-round series in six games over Boston in 2002 before losing in the next round to Carolina.

"I was a lot younger at the time and had more hair," said Therrien. "But (Bruins coach) Claude (Julien) has a lot of experience too.

"It's a challenge for both teams."

To break up the monotony, the Canadiens had a simulated game day on Monday, including a morning skate and an intrasquad game in the evening against mostly call-ups from the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs.

They will take Tuesday off and get back to regular practices on Wednesday.


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