The mind games have started in the Boston-Montreal playoff series.
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said Monday his team will not be thrown off by what he feels is an attempt by the Bruins to plant a seed of doubt in goalie Carey Price's head. He feels the same way about what he thinks is Bruins coach Claude Julien's bid to catch a break from the referees.
Montreal and Boston are tied at one game apiece heading into Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.
[sidebar title="Bruins vs. Canadiens Series Schedule:" width="335" align="right"]
- Game 1: Canadiens 4, Bruins 3 OT
- Game 2: Bruins 5, Canadiens 3
- Game 3: May 6 at 7 p.m. in Montreal
- Game 4: May 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Montreal
- Game 5: May 10 at 7 p.m. in Boston
- Game 6: May 12 at TBA in Montreal
- Game 7: May 14 at TBA in Boston
"It's something they've tried in the past," Therrien said. "We all remember in the Stanley Cup final when they talked about (Chicago goalie) Corey Crawford and how he was giving up goals glove side.
"It's a part of their strategy. It's the same thing with Claude's comments, how they had to deal with penalties - which I find they're coming out of pretty well. They're trying to influence the decisions of the officials. These are the Boston Bruins. It's always been like this and it won't change. It doesn't seem to be affecting my players and, as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't affect me."
Bruins defensemen Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug have suggested the key to beating Price is to shoot high, particularly when they have traffic in front of the net.
"We've definitely noticed that when he's screened, he's looking low and he gets really low," Hamilton said Sunday. "I think we can score a lot of goals up high."
That drew a shrug from Price.
"I've seen a lot of scouting reports on lots of goalies throughout the league and that's pretty much the scouting report on everybody," he said. "It's the same for (Boston goalie) Tuukka Rask, it's the same for me, it's the same for Ben Bishop, it's the same for Corey Crawford. It's a pretty irrelevant comment, I thought."
Price insists he wasn't doing a little toying of his own with the Bruins' minds when he said they were lucky after Boston's 5-3 win in Game 2. The Bruins erased a 3-1 deficit in the final 9:04 of the third period to even the series.
Two goals beat Price high, although one went off Francis Bouillon's stick and another - the tying goal by Patrice Bergeron - skipped off the ice and shot up under the crossbar.
"A puck that hits nothing and goes top shelf? That's pretty lucky in my opinion," Price said.
But he also said: "They did a pretty good job of getting to the net. They're a very big, battling team and they're experienced. They know what it takes to score goals in the playoffs. We're going to have to do a better job of finding a way to see the puck."
Not just the high shots, he added.
"Like I said, it's a pretty general statement at this time of year," Price said. "If you look at all the goals that are scored throughout the playoffs, probably 30 percent of them are tips and 50 percent of them are screens and the other 10 (percent) are just clean shots."
Price has been solid in the series, allowing seven goals on 85 shots in two games, including several big saves on close-in chances. The Bruins had Montreal hemmed in its zone for long stretches of both games.
Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher said that if the goalie who backstopped Canada to gold at the Winter Olympics in February has a blind spot, he's yet to find it during practices.
"I've been shooting on him for two years now and I've yet to find a weakness, so I don't know if they've (found) one," Gallagher said. "In our minds, he's the best goalie in the world and he shows that every night."
Therrien would not comment on potential lineup changes. Rene Bourque missed practice with the flu, so the lines weren't entirely clear, but it appeared that rugged winger Brandon Prust may be scratched as he skated with the so-far unused George Parros.