“No,” the Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty said Thursday. “They play a certain way and I think that’s why they’re successful. To some extent, I wish we played a little more like them, maybe not as much as they do, but they’re definitely an intimidating team to play against and that’s why they’re successful. They have so many guys who can step up, and I’m not just talking about fighting, I’m talking about being physical.”
If there’s a player in the NHL who you’d think would speak negatively about the Bruins, Pacioretty would be the guy. But that wasn’t the case Thursday morning after Montreal held its game-day skate in preparation for its game against Boston.
Pacioretty and Bruins captain Zdeno Chara were involved in an incident last season that left the Montreal forward with a broken vertebra and missed the remainder of the season after he was shoved into a stanchion during a March game in Montreal.
“That’s in my past, and hopefully everyone else’s as well,” Pacioretty said. “I’m just looking to help my team win hockey games, especially against a top team in our conference. I want to do whatever I can to help and I’ve got to put the past behind me.”
Despite the fact that the Bruins are the top team in the Northeast Division, while the Habs remain the cellar dwellers, when these teams play it rarely disappoints.
“I love playing here,” said Montreal’s P.K. Subban. “I know the majority of the guys who have played in the playoffs here and played against this team, it’s always a heated game because it’s the Original Six. There’s a rivalry between us and Boston and they’re a great team and have been playing some really great hockey this year. We have to be ready to play.”
No doubt the 17,565 in attendance will jeer Subban every time he touches the puck Thursday night.
“I love it. I’m not well liked in this building, I know that,” he said. “I guess it’s a compliment, but at the same token, my focus is helping my team win and you can’t really get caught up in that stuff. It’s a compliment when fans boo you out there.” I love playing in this building and it’s a big game for us.”
Subban said, too, that the Bruins are not a dirty team.
“They’re in your face and they’ve had a lot of success,” Subban said. “They’re the Stanley Cup champions and they’re playing some good hockey this year. Whatever they’re doing, they’re doing something right. You know that they’re going to be in your face, they’re going to finish their checks and they’re going to work hard.”
There’s no love lost between Subban and the Bruins’ Brad Marchand when the two face each other on the ice. In the first regular-season matchup in October, the two dropped the gloves and have given each other a hard time in the other three games since.
With Marchand serving the second of a five-game suspension, he will miss Thursday’s game against the hated Habs.
“You don’t like to see anyone get suspended,” Subban said. “He’s a great player and a big part of their team, but that being said, we’ve got to focus on who’s in the lineup.”
Subban admitted that he has not seen the replay of Marchand’s hit on the Canucks’ Sami Salo
“There’s a fine line now when you’re throwing hits,” Subban said.
The Bruins held an optional morning skate in preparation for their game against the Canadiens.
“It’s a big rivalry,” said Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron. “We’re not the ones who started it. It started years before I started playing and we’ve carried that over. It’s always fun to play against them. It’s always intense with a lot of emotion in the building and we need to take that to our advantage and play a good game.”
The struggling Habs, currently sitting in 12th place in the conference, have had their share of controversy recently as well. Mike Cammalleri reportedly said recently the team had developed a “losing mentality,” and that did not sit well in Montreal.
After the comments came out, Cammalleri spoke with his teammates and explained his side of the story.
“Mike’s a great teammate and things get lost in translation a lot of times,” Pacioretty said. “Mike did a great job of stepping up and explaining his side of what happened. He’s a part of our team, a big part of our team and we’re here with him. Everyone’s on the same page, and despite what’s being said in the media, the way we’re going to be successful is sticking together as a team and I don’t think anyone is going to break away from that right now.”