If what is past is prelude, then what will take place at the TD Garden tonight has been laid out before us. And this has nothing do with 1971 or 1979 so much as it does 2014.
The Bruins and Canadiens have played six games now in this series. Six. That is hardly a small sample. Strengths have been confirmed, weaknesses exposes, patterns established. And if what has happened thus far is any indication of what is to come, here are the absolute, indisputable facts:
The Canadiens have been better in goal. Carey Price has faced 204 shots and made 190 saves for a save percentage of .931. Tuukka Rask has faced 178 shots and made 162 saves for a save percentage of .910. Put another way, the Canadiens have scored on 9.5 percent of their shots in this series, the Bruins on 7.3 percent of theirs.
Of course, in the last two games played at the Garden, Price has allowed eight goals.
The Bruins have been better team at even strength. Despite the calamities that were Games 3 and 6, the Bruins have outscored the Canadiens in 5-on-5 play, 13-10. Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith lead the Bruins in even-strength goals with two each.
The Canadiens have been better on special teams, scoring seven power plays goals to the Bruins’ two. Combined, P.K. Subban and Thomas Vanek have scored six of Montreal’s seven power play goals. The only Canadien with two goals at even strength is Lars Eller, whose first even-strength goal came with an empty net in Game 3.
There have been no shorthanded goals scored in the series. During the regular season, the Bruins had nine short-handed goals, tied for sixth in the league. Montreal had six, tied for 16th.
The Bruins have been the more penalized team. Boston has been called for 64 minutes in penalties during the series. Montreal has been called for 54. That is essentially a difference of one minor penalty per game.
P.K. Subban and Zdeno Chara have been on the ice more than any other skaters. Chara leads the Bruins with 154:32 of ice time. Subban, who is considerably younger, has played a series-high 163:38, an average of 27:16 per game.
Patrice Bergeron has taken more shots on goal than anyone in the series, compiling 25 in the six games. Max Pacioretty leads the Canadiens with 22. In three games, Canadiens defenseman Douglas Murray has yet to be credited with a shot on goal. Montreal defenseman Francis Bouillon has been credited with one shot – in Game 1 – and it resulted in a goal.
Excluding 10-minute misconducts, P.K. Subban and Mart Bartkowski have been the most penalized players in the series. Subban has 12 minutes, an average of one minor per game. Bartkowski has amassed his 10 minutes in just four games.
If last night’s Game 7 between the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins can be used as any barometer at all, the referees will be conservative. There were five penalties called in last night’s other Eastern Conference semifinal, only three of which resulted in a power play.