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Canadiens ready for Lucic, Bruins in home opener after nasty playoff series

10/15/2014 05:09 EDT | Updated 12/15/2014 05:59 EST
BROSSARD, Que. - Dale Weise recalls the first time Vancouver faced Boston in the regular season after the Bruins' seven-game victory over the Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup final.

Early in the first period, a brawl erupted as Alex Burrows got a stick up during a line change. Weise was in the main event, trading punches with Boston's Nathan Horton in a long battle away from the main melee.

"We had a line brawl seven minutes in," Weise, now a member of the Montreal Canadiens, said Wednesday. "So I think the fans, the media and everybody got what they wanted there."

The gritty winger does not expect quite the same when the Bruins visit the Bell Centre for the Canadiens home opener on Thursday night, or that there will be any spillover of bitterness from Montreal's seven-game victory over their archrivals in the second round of playoffs last spring.

In the handshake line after Game 7, Boston's Milan Lucic reportedly told Weise "I'm going to kill you next year," and also had words for defenceman Alexei Emelin.

None of the Canadiens take Lucic literally. Weise expects a hard-fought game against a rival and divisional opponent, but not a war.

"I don't see it being the case," said Weise. "The media kinda blows things up a bit and the games have a hard time living up to that, so we're just focusing on having a good game.

"Being our first home game, everyone's excited, the crowd's going to be jumping and everybody will be ready to go."

Lucic took exception to Weise's mock muscle flex in the finale, a mimic of the Bruins' winger's chest thumping and muscle flexing earlier in the series.

The Bruins had a game Wednesday night in Detroit, so there was no word on their approach to the rematch with Montreal, although games between the teams are always tough and sometimes nasty.

"I expect a loud crowd, I expect us to come out and play well and I expect an intense game," added Weise. "Any time Boston plays Montreal there's a lot of animosity.

"I don't think there's going to be anything extra. It's always there."

On Lucic, Weise said: "That's the way he plays every night. He plays hard. He's intense. I don't think anything's different if he plays us or any other team."

That will be seen when the puck drops as the Canadiens return home after starting the season 3-1-0 on the road. The trip included three comeback victories after weak first periods followed by a 7-1 thrashing at the hands in Tampa on Monday night.

The Lightning took revenge for a first round sweep at the hands of the Canadiens in the opening round in April.

The Bruins will no doubt be seeking vengeance as well, said winger Brendan Gallagher.

"We've been in that situation," he said. "When you lose to a team in a playoff series; the disappointment, and how badly you want to beat them the next time we play them.

"Tampa was like that. They fully deserved to win that game. They were a much better hockey team, and Boston's going to be the same. We have to match that intensity. We have to do what we did well in those playoff series."

Gallagher, who brings a similar grit and intensity but in a much smaller package, trains with Lucic in the off-season in Vancouver. His father, Ian Gallagher, is strength and conditioning coach for the junior Vancouver Giants and has worked with Lucic for several years.

Brendan Gallagher calls his Boston rival a "good person" who happens to play hockey with fire and a strong dose of nastiness.

"Knowing Looch and the type of person and player he is, he's going to play a good game," said Gallagher. "He's competitive and that's what makes him Milan Lucic and such a tough player to play against.

"He's going to be up for it, but our group will be the same way. It's definitely going to be a fun game to be part of. You're going to have to manage your emotions. It's going to be a battle."

Coach Michel Therrien said he expects the usual intensity of a Boston-Montreal game, but he was more concerned about his special teams, which have gone 0-for-14 on the power play and a mediocre 14-for-18 on the penalty kill.

The special teams units worked an extra half hour before practice, something Therrien said they weren't able to do on the road.

"We've got to be better on special teams," said Therrien. "We haven't had much chance to work on the power play because of the schedule.

"On the road, we watched video and worked on Xs and Os, but you need to practice. The next two weeks will be good for us because we're home for four games and we'll have lots of time to practice."

Left-winger Max Pacioretty said the team needs to bear down more on the power play and earn their chances.

"Last game we were terrible on the power play," he said. "You have to have the same mindset as 5 on 5, in playing hard and winning your battles. Sometimes you get too comfortable on a power play and expect the guy next to you to make a play."

It appears the Canadiens will have Emelin back after the defenceman missed two games with an upper body injury. And it looks like Nathan Beaulieu will come out of the lineup, while six-foot-six Jarred Tinordi will play on the third pairing with Mike Weaver.

No change is expected up front, unless Therrien opts to give Travis Moen a start on the fourth line, perhaps in Weise's spot. Moen is a strong penalty killer.

Michael Bournival, who has yet to play this season, was sent to AHL Hamilton to play a pair of weekend games and is to return to Montreal on Monday. Therrien said the second-year forward needs playing time to stay sharp.

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