If the scoreboard leaned one way or the other before the series starts based on how many Stanley Cup rings players on Montreal and the Bruins possess, the Canadiens would have the edge.
Of course, those rings won’t have nearly the impact on this series that goaltending, special teams and team speed will have when Boston and Montreal play out their best-of-seven conference quarterfinal series starting Thursday.
Nonetheless, Montreal’s Hal Gill, Scott Gomez, Brent Sopel, Brian Gionta and Travis Moen have combined for six Stanley Cup championships in their careers. Mark Recchi and Shawn Thornton for Boston have just three between them. The Habs are hoping that their run to the Eastern Conference final a year ago, which included victories in five straight elimination games, will also give them a boost against Boston.
Sean Gordon of the Globe & Mail tackled this topic today. Here’s what Sopel had to say about the experience edge:
“When you’ve been through the complete battle from start to finish for those two months, it’s a completely different experience. A lot of things are going to happen, and there are going to be guys who can relay information through it all. It’s a wide variety of things; it’s going to be on the ice, off the ice, there’s a lot of highs and lows in a game and in a series.”
Luckily for Montreal, Habs captain Gionta wasn’t getting too carried away with the value of the team’s combined playoff experience. Gordon quotes the diminutive forward:
“Experience is a big thing, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t win you a series, you still have to go out and you need to perform and you need to execute.”
They don’t hand out playoff victories based on what a team’s players or a franchise has accomplished in the past. Obviously, if the Bruins held this edge they’d be boasting about it too. However, whichever team thinks it has the experience edge has to know the effects of it will be negligible.