Canadiens' Therrien not buying what Bruins' Julien selling

Montreal Canadiens head coach speaks with the media at the Bell Centre in Montreal, May 6, 2014....

Montreal Canadiens head coach speaks with the media at the Bell Centre in Montreal, May 6, 2014. (MARTIN CHEVALIER/QMI Agency)

Chris Stevenson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:48 PM ET

BOSTON - The Atlantic Division final has turned into a grinding slog after a quick start.

What awaits in Game 5 Saturday night with the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins tied 2-2 in the series will depend to some extent on the officiating. There were 22 penalty calls in the first two games here, but after Bruins coach Claude Julien complained about “a lot of the crap that we put up with today,” following Boston’s Game 2 victory – a reference to the officiating and the nine penalties called on the Bruins in that game – the calls have dried up.

There were only two penalties called in Game 3 and three in Game 4.

Did Julien influence the number of calls being made?

Connect the dots.

The Bruins are the better 5-on-5 team – they led the league in 5-on-5 scoring in the regular season and lead in the playoffs – so the fewer power plays, the better for the B’s.

“We haven’t scored (on the power play), their power play has been good, so maybe people tend to think the advantage is with them if there are more special team things. But overall, our special teams were fairly good this year,” said Julien. “It just happens to be, as I mentioned, in the playoffs it is so important to be disciplined and both teams are trying to be disciplined.

“You can say what you want. I have no complaints about the refereeing. In this series, I think they’ve done a wonderful job letting both teams play so at the end of the night, for the most part, the better team has won.”

Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien wasn’t buying it.

“I’m sure he said that,” Therrien said with a laugh when told about Julien’s comments.

When asked his thoughts on it, he added: “They’re doing a great job. I love that question.”

Saturday night's game will be officiated by Wes McCauley – regarded as the top referee in the league – and Eric Furlatt.

Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara, who has spent much of the series shutting down the Habs’ top line of Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais and Thomas Vanek (at least when he has actually been on the line), said the Bruins can play it any way you want.

“I’m not sure if that’s the right statement, that it’s helping us. We have to be ready for games like that and we have to be ready for when there’s more penalties called. When there are less penalties and you play 5-on-5 hockey, there’s probably less room, less time to do things. It’s a really tight-checking game.

“I don’t think we’re uncomfortable playing that kind of game. It’s something where there is more flow in the game when there’s 5-on-5 hockey.”

Pacioretty has been held to just a single goal in these playoffs – a power-play goal at the end of the opening series against the Tampa Bay Lightning – and conceded Chara has been the better player in their battle so far.

“Chara has been really good this series. He goes into battles not worrying about someone playing the body on him. He’s so big, he doesn’t have to worry about that. He’s got such a long reach. Obviously he’s been difficult to play against, but it’s a great challenge for me. The first four games, I’ll give him the edge. He definitely won ... he was the better of the two players. I can just worry about the future and there’s three games left for me to prove myself. This is real gut check time,” said Pacioretty, a notoriously streaky scorer.

“It’s a challenge and we haven’t risen to that challenge yet. Myself, personally, I have to do a better job of being able to overcome that adversity. I haven’t been able to do so, but I hope to do so from here on out. It’s a three game series now and we’re in a very good position. We had a great first round. We’re four games into this we’re tied up. I like where our team is standing right now.”

Therrien gave his team’s top scorer in the regular season a vote of confidence.

“I know eventually he’ll turn it around,” said Therrien of Pacioretty. “Hopefully it will be tonight. When this guy gets hot, he’s really hot.”

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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