Bruins-Canadiens? Bring it on

Montreal coach Michel Therrien said his team's victory wasn't about ending Boston's streak. It was about earning a critical two points. Before and after the game, Therrien praised the Bruins for what they have accomplished this month. Behind closed doors, however, the message to his players probably was a little different than his lip service to the media.

Julien, who coached the Canadiens earlier in his career, has said plenty of times during his tenure in Boston that there's a legitimate hatred between these teams. It shows during the regular season, and it's been evident in their many playoff series, too.

The Eastern Conference standings are tight, and if these teams were to play in the postseason, it would likely be in the second round.

"I think it would be a very physical series, and we would try to play just like we did tonight and hit them every chance we get," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. "They're probably going to want to do the same thing they did tonight -- poke at us and try to get us to take penalties. It would be a lot of fun to watch."

Boston played impressive hockey during its streak. Still, there were some areas -- mostly the team's defensive game -- in which Julien wanted to see improvement. He said it wasn't about the streak, but more about the process. The Bruins want to be playing their best hockey once the puck drops on the playoffs.

So after the streak ended Monday night with a shootout loss, Julien wasn't disappointed. The Bruins still earned a point and remain atop the Eastern Conference with 104 points. That the Bruins fell to 2-4 in games decided in a shootout means absolutely nothing.

"We managed to get that point, and if we have a weakness, it's pretty obvious it's in the shootouts," Julien said. "We don't do well, and I don't care about that because it doesn't happen in playoffs."

Julien wasn't pleased with his team's lack of discipline early in the game, but he also knows that won't be the case once the playoffs arrive.

"Just because they won tonight in a shootout doesn't mean we're going to go in the playoffs and have the same kind of situation," Julien said. "If we happen to meet them in the playoffs, and that's an 'if' we'll deal with, but you can be sure that's not going to happen."

The Bruins are not a team to make excuses, but Julien chalked up Monday's shootout loss to the fact the team just returned from a three-game road trip in three separate time zones, then had a five-hour flight home on Sunday. In Julien's mind, that contributed to Boston's slow and undisciplined start.

"It was a typical game that teams play when they come off one of those road trips," Julien said. "I can't explain it. Everybody goes through that; it's just one of those things that becomes a challenge.

"We played hard. We kept with it, and we kept ourselves in the game and managed to tie it. You can't win 12 in a row and lose one in a shootout and say, 'I'm really disappointed in my team.' I don't think so. I think our team is OK, and we've got another great challenge coming up, which is what we want, and that's Chicago on Thursday."

On Thursday, the Blackhawks will return to Boston for the first time since hoisting the Stanley Cup after Game 6 of the finals last June 24. The Bruins hope to return to the finals for the third time in four seasons this June, and if the hockey gods have anything to do with it, let's hope Boston needs to go through Montreal to get there.

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