Canadiens-Bruins dusting off following long break

Montreal Canadiens goalie Peter Budaj (30) makes a save on Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron...

Montreal Canadiens goalie Peter Budaj (30) makes a save on Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron (37) during the first period at the Bell Centre earlier this season. (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

Chris Stevenson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:12 PM ET

Daniel Briere hadn’t quite become a couch potato, but he was getting there.

The Montreal Canadiens forward watched the rest of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs unfold from his living room as the Habs had a nine-day break after sweeping the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“It was weird. I was sitting on the couch watching the other games and I felt almost as if I was done playing because it was so long watching other games,” said Briere after the Habs’ morning skate in preparation for Game 1 of their Atlantic Division final against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden Thursday night.

“It’s a good feeling. Our time is finally here and we can get back on the ice, get back at it.”

There’s a lot to dig into here with this one. This is the 34th post-season meeting between the long-time rivals and there’s a feeling if there’s a team in the East that can take out the top-seeded Bruins, the 2011 Stanley Cup champs and finalists last spring, it’s the Habs, who have a knack for driving the Bruins nuts.

Bruins coach Claude Julien was particularly terse in his media conference Thursday morning.

One of the interesting things to watch in the early stages will be how quickly the Habs can ramp up their game after the layoff (the Bruins have been off four days after eliminating the Detroit Red Wings in five games Saturday).

“I feel sometimes like a lot people have forgotten the Canadiens are still in the playoffs. There’s been a lot of good hockey being played in the last week. It’s been fun watching,” said Briere in a Canadiens dressing room jammed with media for the much-anticipated series between the long-time rivals.

“One of the keys for tonight is how soon or how quick we can get our minds back into the playoff run, the playoff atmosphere. That’s probably going to be the biggest obstacle to start the game.”

One of the big talking points will be the discipline, particularly on the part of the Bruins. The Canadiens have had a knack for getting under the Bruins’ skin. The word hate has been bounced around, particularly from the Boston side of things, and there’s anticipation things could go sideways.

“It is playoffs. I just think the penalties are that much bigger when you take them. They can hurt you that much more. It’s like every other game. You don’t want to take stupid penalties after the whistle,” said Canadiens forward Rene Bourque, one of the pleasant surprises for the Habs in the opening round against Tampa.

“There’s guys on both sides that are agitators. Everybody knows who they are so you’ve just got to play smart.”

Bruins forward Brad Marchand and Montreal forward Max Pacioretty, the Canadiens leading goalscorer in the regular season with 39, did not skate for their teams Thursday morning, but their coaches said both were exercising their right to not take part in the optional skates and both are expected to play Thursday night.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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