Habs want revenge after 'crazy' game

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:38 PM ET

MONTREAL -- A decent dump of snow hit here Monday.

It doesn't feel anything like spring, except for the playoff-type heat coming off the anticipated meeting Tuesday night between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins -- the first since the old rivals combined for 14 goals and 187 minutes in penalties almost exactly a month ago in what they're calling "The Beatdown in Boston."

The game comes at an interesting time with the suspension to New York Islander Trevor Gillies, the news about the late Bob Probert's brain damage and the growing debate (Mike Milbury wasn't that fleet of foot as a player but has shown he is capable of a spin-a-rama as a commentator) about fighting and its role in the game.

That game between Montreal and Boston a month ago finished with the Bruins beating up the Canadiens. Habs defenceman Jaroslav Spacek and forward Tom Pyatt were left bruised and bloody after the late-game scraps.

This is a different part of the fighting-in-hockey debate, beyond the staged fights where enforcers justify their existence.

This is about using fighting as an intimidation tactic. It keeps the topic of fighting in hockey on the front burner.

It will be interesting to see if the way the Bruins physically dominated the Canadiens in that game is a tipping point in the series between the small and speedy Habs and the B's, who are have been living up to their identity as the Big, Bad Bruins. Heading into that game, the Canadiens had won eight of the nine previous meetings between the two clubs.

The Canadiens insisted Monday they were not intimidated in that game, not that they would have said anything else. "I don't think so. Hockey is meant to be played in between the whistles. If it's going to get a little hairy out there, I'm sure our guys are going to stick up for each other," said Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, who exchanged pillows with Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas in that game. "If it gets out of hand, our power play will sure step in and win us games.

"I'm expecting a lot of hard play between the whistles. There will probably be some rough stuff. That was a pretty crazy game the last time. It doesn't happen very often."

The Canadiens were sticking to the company line that they didn't play their game a month ago and that was why they lost. The philosophy is their speed and their power play will keep the Bruins honest (the Canadiens went 4-for-8 in that loss Feb. 9; a lot of good that did them, huh?)

"Being a bigger player, when you try to chase after guys and try to be physical, the first thing you want is them to come back and try to be physical with you," said 6-foot-7 Canadiens defenceman Hal Gill. "I know the most frustrating thing is when you're chasing a guy around and being physical and they're skating and moving the puck. That's what we have to do. It's really just playing our game against them."

You know a lot of people will be following this game with interest because it could go a long way toward settling the Northeast Division in the Bruins' favour or leave the door open for the Habs, but mostly because of what happened a month ago.

"It was crazy, the whole thing," Gill said.

People will be watching to see if the threat of another beatdown can make a little team like the Habs back down and justify the threat of a fight as a tactic.

Do the Habs want revenge for the beatings they took?

"Revenge is winning," Gill said. "We want revenge."


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