by Patrick Hoffman on 04/16/09 at 11:15 AM ET
It’s amazing how much things change over the course of a year in the National Hockey League. A perfect example of this would be the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, who will meet tonight for Game one of the first round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
About a year ago, these teams met in the first round of the playoffs but compared to this season, the roles were reversed as the Bruins now have the No. 1 seed while the Habs have the No. 8 seed. That’s not the only difference:
- A season ago, Canadiens’ netminder Carey Price was strutting his stuff and led the Canadiens into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed. This season, however, Price is struggling to find his game and as such, the Habs ended up in the No. 8 spot.
- Last season, Tim Thomas was a goalie who was lucky to get his team into the playoffs. This season, Thomas is an all-star who led the league in goals against average and save percentage while being a front runner for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender.
- A year ago, the Habs got timely goal scoring from Alex Kovalev, who posted 84 points. This season, Kovalev was wildly inconsistent and only put up 65 points.
- Last season, Phil Kessel was inconsistent when it came to putting the puck in the net. This season, the 21-year-old scored 36 goals and posted 60 points, a 23-point increase from last season.
- Last year, Guy Carbonneau was behind the bench for the Habs. This season, Bob Gainey will be behind the bench when the puck drops for Game one.
- Last season, many pundits thought the Bruins were lucky to get into the playoffs. This season, many experts are picking the Bruins to go to the finals.
What do you folks think about the differences between these past two seasons for these clubs? Will they have any impact on this year’s playoffs?
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.