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Haggerty On Toucher & Rich: Montreal Is The Toughest Team Left In The East For Bruins

BOSTON (CBS) - After the Bruins closed out their opening round series with the Red Wings this past weekend, the attention now shifts to Montreal, who have been sitting idly for six days awaiting to get started.

Unfortunately for hockey fans, the series likely won't come until Saturday night given a number of scheduling conflicts.

Joe Haggerty of Comcast SportsNet New England joined 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher & Rich Monday morning to preview the series.

"It's still up in the air because there's so many things going on with the Northeastern graduation [at the TD Garden] on Friday morning, and Montreal has concerts [at the Bell Centre] on Monday and Wednesday. Hockey Night In Canada wants as many Saturday night games as possible, and Montreal is the only Canadian team left so that's a factor too. ... A lot of people seem to think, and it makes sense, to start the series Saturday night and then have Game 2 on Monday."

It's certainly not an ideal situation to start the series that late, and if it does start Saturday night that's six days rest for the Bruins and 10 days off for Montreal. Now granted, a certain amount of rest is needed, but too much time off is not a good thing either.

"The flu was going around the Bruins, but [too much time off] was part of what happened with them in that first game with Detroit. Not only was it a five or six day layoff for the Bruins going into the playoffs, but they hadn't played a real meaningful game in awhile prior to that," said Haggs. "That hurt them a little bit, and it'll definitely hurt Montreal. It'll be similar for both teams. That's something the Bruins will have to fight through as well."

However, all that time off means more time for Daniel Paille to recover.

"It sounded like [Paille] was gonna start skating in warmups that next game that they had, and I think he'll return by the time they suit up against Montreal. That changes that fourth line. The Merlot is very different with his speedy presence, and penalty kill obviously will improve as well with Paille back."

Regardless of the starting date, another chapter to the Bruins-Canadiens rivalry is about to be written, and Haggerty is of the mind that if the B's can skate past the Habs, they won't face a tougher opponent until the Stanley Cup Finals.

"I still think, and I'll continue to say, [Montreal] is the toughest opponent the Bruins will have in the East until they get to the Stanley Cup Finals the way things match up.

"Alexei Emelin and P.K. Subban get under the skin of the Bruins. Tomas Vanek is a known Bruins-killer. Brendan Gallagher, Lars Eller and Rene Borque were really good against the Tampa Bay Lightning. They have an experienced defensemen core. Carey Price is an All Star-level goaltender.

"That's a really, really good team. This is gonna be a hell of a second round series. I think it'll go the distance and it's gonna push the Bruins harder than anyone else will in the East."

Listen below for the full discussion:

Joe Haggerty Interview

Hear every Bruins playoff game on 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship station of the Boston Bruins. Pregame coverage with Dave Goucher and Bob Beers begins 30 minutes prior to every game!


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