'Stressful series' keeps Ward, Bruins on edge

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Aaron Ward has played in 87 post-season games and won two Stanley Cups with a couple of different teams, but he remembers nothing making his heart pound like this Boston-Montreal thing.

"I will tell you honestly, having gone through this series in the last six, seven days, this is probably one of the most stressful series I've been involved in," the Bruins defenceman said yesterday. "The pressure of having gone in (the playoffs) from a season being No. 1 seed, to knowing there's a lot of emotion and a lot of external factors that can really have an influence on the direction of the series.

"For us, we were well aware of the position we were in."

It's the you-better-win-this-time slot.

The Bruins have lost 24 of their 31 playoff series with Montreal. The Habs have claimed the last three, including the one 12 months ago when the underdog B's came back, but not all the way back, from a 3-1 series deficit only to be crushed 5-0 in Game 7. Ward was a minus-4.

"It's a stressful series because there's emotion involved," said Ward, who earned a Cup ring with the 1996-97 Detroit Red Wings and 2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes. "It's one thing to play a team that you play six games against, or four games against in the regular season, and there's not a whole lot of history. You can't say that about this series. It's tough. There's a level of emotion that's been developed over time. We went through this last year and went seven games."

The Bruins expect the Habs will come out tonight with the same intensity they had in the first period of Game 3.

"We sustained. We endured," said Ward, whose Bruins were outhit 21-7 in the opening 20 minutes and 33-15 in the game. "Any hit, whether there's contact or it's just contact to the glass, incites some sort of reaction from the fans. It is intimidating. Whether you're a 20-year-old or a 36-year-old, it's tough hearing 20,000 screaming in excitement over a little bit of contact. You're a Christian being fed to the lions at this point."

And the lions will be growling for one victory from the Habs tonight. Allowing that to happen is a stress the Bruins can do without.

"I don't think you can ever take the philosophy you're in control in the playoffs," said Ward. "Things can change so quickly. Injuries, inserting players into the lineup ... it's a tactical game.

"You can change one thing about your system and really stifle your opponent. You should never allow yourself to get comfortable."


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