Darren Eliot: Bruins vs. Canadiens playoff preview - Sports Illustrated

Series breakdown: Bruins (3) vs. Canadiens (6)

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Regular season series: Canadiens won, 4-2-0

Nov. 11:Canadiens 3 at Bruins 1Dec. 16:Bruins 3 at Canadiens 4Jan. 8:Bruins 2 at Canadiens 3 (OT)Feb. 9:Canadiens 6 at Boston 8March 8:Bruins 1 at Canadiens 4March 24:Canadiens 0 at Bruins 7

Snapshot: This is a long-standing, historic rivalry -- the only Original Six match-up in the Conference Quarterfinals. Of course, the recent bad blood exhibited this season will give this series added allure. Both the Bruins with Tim Thomas and the Canadiens with Carey Price have all-star goaltending and subsequently employ strict defensive styles to fully take advantage of that strength. Expect low scoring, tight checking, hotly contested games throughout.

The Bruins play a heavier game, forechecking aggressively and hitting more. The Canadiens counter with small forwards who are slick and quick. Skating five on five, the Habs are content to stay even with their opponents and win games via their outstanding special teams. Montreal was one of only three teams, along with the Canucks and Lightning, to have Its power play and penalty kill ranked in the league's top 10. Conversely, the Bruins were anything but special in man-up/down situations, ranking in the second half of the league in both categories.

If Boston plays a disciplined even-strength game, it should prevail. But turn these games into a volley of power play chances by being overly aggressive on the physical side and the Bruins could make their own trouble and give the offensively challenged Habs some life.

Spotlight's On:Zdeno Chara. He's already faced the Canadiens after the Max Pacioretty incident, but still needs to prove that he can keep his focus for an entire series and find that balance between imposing physical play and leading the Bruins by example -- especially when the series shifts to Montreal.

X-Factor for Bruins: Nathan Horton. Making the first playoff appearance of his career, the streaky winger could be just the type of difference-maker the Bruins need if he can get hot early and stay comfortable.

X-Factor for Canadiens: Thomas Plekanec. He is one of the top all-around players in the game, but offensive production has to be part of the equation if the Habs are to upset the Bruins.

The pick: Bruins in six.

FARBER:Canucks dressed for success

HACKEL:Playoffs too unpredictable to predict

HACKEL:Eastern playoff thoughts | Western