BOSTON — Well the leader in clubhouse in terms of verbal shots taken prior to tonight’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens at TD Banknorth Garden is clearly Habs tough guys Georges Laraque. For those who missed it yesterday, “Big Georges” appeared on CKAC in Montreal and had some choice words for Bruins forward Shawn Thornton, as well as Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara.
Among the things he said about Thornton was that “he’s way too small for me. Actually, some of his teammates told me he was shaking in his boots before the game” Today Laraque was asked about making such a bold statement about a member of the other team.
“Consider it bold then,” he shot back at the question.
Neither Thornton nor Chara nor Lucic was available for comment after the Bruins’ morning skate. But Laraque did enough talking for four or more men.
“Maybe some players, when they say things like that, then a team or players will go after you and stuff to show their emotions that they didn’t like that and stuff,” said Laraque, who wasn’t hiding his strategy for aiding the eighth-seeded Habs in their quest to upset the top-seeded Bruins. “So, again, I’d be glad that everybody takes it personal because they’d all go after me and stuff because I think I could take it and stuff. And if they could all take their physicality on me, then I’m really not worried about it.”
Laraque was asked if he was getting into the Bruins’ heads.
“By the way that I’m going to play, that’s the only way that you can get into somebody’s head,” he explained. “You can say whatever you want, but if you’re not physical and stuff, you’re not going to get into anybody’s head. Every time you play physical, a team has to do something to try to respond to your actions. It doesn’t matter what I say. We’re talking about Thornton. I doubt that fighting is even going to be the issue. The issue’s going to be the physical play. And if I play physical, I know that they’re going to have to find a way to respond and that’s how they try to get in the team’s head.”
In his comments on the radio show, Laraques also said he’d rather fight Lucic or Chara than Thornton. But he also had some things to say about his own team and its failures in last Thursday’s final regular-season meeting with the Bruins — an overtime loss that featured more than 70 penalty minutes. He told the station: “I have never seen a team get roughed-up as badly as the Bruins roughed us up last week. I’m sure that if they play that kind of hockey during the playoffs, guys will get suspended. I understand why they played that way, they didn’t want to face us in the first round, they wanted to face the Panthers.”
Today he stuck to that statement and also explained how that game might’ve been just what the Habs needed.
“I’ve played in the NHL for 11 years. When I was looking at the team, we got pushed and challenged in a lot of ways,” he said. “And it’s just a fact that we’re aware of that and the type of team that we are and just that we’re ready for it. It was kind of good in a way that it happened because it gives you more (ammunition) when you get in a playoff, to know what you’re expecting and how you want to prove something how that type of game’s not going to happen again. And for once we can be the aggressor also.”
So now we know if Laraque has any influence, the Habs are going to come out flying. How Boston will choose to respond remains to be seen.