BROSSARD, Quebec — For the first two games of this second-round series between the Bruins and Canadiens, Montreal coach Michel Therrien went with the lineup on defense that earned his team a sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
But for Game 3, believing his team needed a more physical component, Therrien replaced Francis Bouillon with 6-foot-3-inch, 240-pound Douglas Murray.
Although Murray doesn’t have a reputation for being a dirty player, he does play both on the edge and with an edge.
In Games 3 and 4, Murray and veteran Mike Weaver turned in strong performances, first in victory and then in defeat.
The only blemish in Game 4, which squared the best-of-seven matchup at two games apiece, was that they were on the ice for Matt Fraser’s goal in overtime that led to the Bruins’ 1-0 win. But the coach was happy with their contribution.
“I thought they played really well,’’ said Therrien, who put Weaver and Murray out against the Bruins’ line of Fraser, Carl Soderberg, and Loui Eriksson for most of the night. “I thought they were physical, I thought they were blocking shots, they contained really well for the most part.
“Douglas Murray is a tough customer, he’s tough to play against. Certainly he’s a presence out there for us and I thought Weaver and Murray did a fantastic job.’’
The Fraser goal, like so many overtime goals, was scored after a frenetic scramble in front of goaltender Carey Price. The puck bounced off the glass and Price had eyes on it, but after a teammate yelled, “Over!,’’ Price looked over his left shoulder and lost sight of it. Fraser, to the netminder’s right, whacked it in.
“I had no idea where the puck was,’’ said Murray, a 34-year-old native of Bromma, Sweden, who spoke to the media at the Habs practice facility before boarding a plane to Boston. “I followed my guy behind the net.
“I was behind the net when the [initial] shot was taken. I was coming back in front and all I see are [Price and Weaver] down and I didn’t see the puck and all of a sudden, it comes out and my guy puts it in. I’ve got to have that guy’s stick but I had no idea where the puck was.’’
Therrien felt that Weaver and Murray were on top of their game, despite the goal, and Murray took some solace in that.
“Any time you get praise from the coach, it makes you feel good,’’ he said.
It took Murray a while to get his legs under him after such a long layoff out of the lineup. He said Game 4 was much more comfortable for him than Game 3.
“Personally, I haven’t played a lot of hockey in the last month,’’ he said. “I think I shook some of the rust off from that first game. I made a couple of better decisions with the puck. I felt a lot better.”
During the latter part of the regular season, Murray got into his first supplementary discipline trouble when he was assessed a three-game suspension after an elbow to the head of Lightning defenseman Michael Kostka, which resulted in a concussion. Murray didn’t take the incident lightly.
“I have a lot of friends within hockey who have had problems with concussions and it’s a scary thing,’’ said Murray, who reached out to Kostka after the incident. “You feel terrible when you put somebody in that situation and I was happy he was back playing shortly after.’’
In his first game back after the banishment, Murray was ejected from a game against the Islanders after boarding Johan Sundstrom. Murray said as much as he plays on the line, he really does try not to go over it.
“Obviously, after what happened at the end of the regular season, some people might view me differently,’’ said Murray. “But I take a lot of pride in not taking minors, and however the [officials] call it, I try to stay within the rules and play hard but fair.’’
He said the incidents didn’t cause him to question his style of play.
“From people within hockey, I get positive feedback,’’ he said. “They know [the hit on Kostka] was a freak play. I’m going to stay aggressive. Once you become hesitant, you might put yourself in even more trouble. I trust my instincts out there.’’
Despite the loss at home in Game 4, the Canadiens come back into enemy territory feeling positive about their chances to advance.
“We should still be a confident group,’’ said Murray. “We played a good hockey game. You’ve got to have a short-term memory in the playoffs.’’Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Elle1027.