Much like the Canucks Bruins Cup final result came down to officiating and the “way” the game was called with punching, roughing, and biting for that matter no longer deemed penalty worthy, this unknowable wildcard factor is destined to be a huge determinant for the team that advances to the final four.
Suspect, inconsistent and at times incompetent referring is costing teams dearly by taking them out of series they should be leading in. Latest case in point times two was in Colorado last night when Coyle had a step on the Colorado defender and was interfered with for nearly fifty feet as he tried to seal it with an empty net goal but no call. Just a few seconds later Colorado was clearly offside at the blue line but play continued, Colorado scored and then won it in over time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovoqUzH6GTc
Those blown calls likely decided the series in favour of the Avalanche and it just should not happen with so much at stake.
Montreal has met Boston 34 times in the playoffs with the Habs having a decided edge largely due to the 18 series played between 1946 and 1987 when Montreal won every series with only 4 going the distance. The next period, 1988 to 2013 featured 11 meetings with five going the distance and the Bruins holding serve with 7 wins.
Since 2000, the teams met five times, 02, 04, 08, 09 and most recently in 2011. The Habs did win 3 out of 5 however the Bruins have taken the last two. During this past regular season, the Habs took 3 of 4 against Boston, which at the very least indicates the Habs can beat and are used to beating the Bruins. For that reason, a short series seems unlikely. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-qYB6AKuQ0
Story lines to watch besides the refereeing wild card are Rask versus Price, not much to choose between them with no clear advantage but Rask has better playoff numbers right now. The Bruins power play is red hot and was lights out against the Wings. The Canadiens speed factor could cause havoc for Boston with mid ice turnovers, as was the case in all the games with Tampa though it is up for debate if Boston is just as fast.
The Bruins will want to pound the smaller Montreal forwards and potential injuries come into the mix on that count but Boston must also stay out of the box or risk the Canadiens power play getting hot and doing to them what they just did to finish off the Wings.
The schedule has yet to be formally announced by the NHL but it appears likely game 1 will go either Thursday May 1 or Saturday May 3 with Boston opening at home.