April 14, 2011

Cammalleri: Series comes down to more than just size versus speed

by Jesse Connolly

Habs winger Mike Cammalleri battles with B's winger Milan Lucic for the puck. (Getty)

BOSTON-- Since the moment the Montreal Canadiens cemented their spot as the Bruins first-round opponent, the hype machine has been going full-throttle throughout Boston.

From the history of the rivalry to the oft-mentioned Pacioretty storyline, there have been plenty of talking points surrounding this series.

The same can -- as you might expect -- be said of the current scene in Montreal, where this first-round matchup has been eagerly anticipated for quite some time.

"Yeah, it's been a lot of talk about this series and this game," Canadiens forward Mike Cammalleri said. "The reality of it is that we'll see what happens out there on the ice. It's a lot of fun for us, though. We can't wait to start the game."

Montreal will come into the series as the underdog in this one. While many hang their hat on the fact that the playoffs are a so-called new season, Cammalleri sees both sides of the argument.

"In one sense, you're building toward this and you don't get here unless you've done a good enough job in the regular season," he said. "At the same time, there are changes that take place as far as how these games go. You see teams that aren't supposed to win, win. It's kind of a fresh start in the playoffs."

Many mistakenly fear that the Habs' confidence against Boston may have taken a hard hit the last time these two clubs met, a game in which the Bruins walloped them 7-0 at TD Garden, but Cammalleri isn't worried about there being any kind of mental hurdle for his team to overcome because of the decisive setback.

"I don't think we feel like we do," he said. "We don't feel like there's a hump or anything we have to get over. We've had a lot of success against these guys. I think more is being said about that on the outside than in here."

Cammalleri has had perhaps more success than any member of his team against the Black and Gold in recent years. Now in his second season in Montreal, the 28-year-old winger has 11 points -- including seven goals -- in just ten tilts against the Bruins.

"I think there's a certain level of confidence, but that confidence will be earned over time if you can make a run here in the playoffs," he said. "Going into it, you still want to see what you're made of and what you've got."

Plenty of focus seems to always be dedicated toward who grabs momentum first in Game 1. As far as Cammalleri is concerned, it's the big picture that matters most.

"It's important that when you shake hands, you win the series," the 5-foot-9 forward said. "I think that first goal is just one goal. Both teams should be ready to engage in whatever mentality it takes to win that series."

So, too, does Cammalleri believe that overanalyzing the contrasting styles between the two teams is essentially a waste of time.

"I think a lot is being made out of that whole thing, as far as media talk and what style of play," he said. "It makes for interesting conversation on TV and radio, but there's many more intricacies to the game that we look at that we're trying to get an advantage with.

"For us, it's about playing a sound game and that doesn't have anything to do with a size or speed thing. It's just about how we want to play the game."