BOSTON — The date was Feb. 26, there were stars aplenty on both sides, and the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins met on “Hockey Night in Canada” in what turned out to be a dandy.

Little did they know that the Bruins’ 3-1 victory in Vancouver would turn out to be a Stanley Cup finals preview.

But don’t talk to the Bruins about it. To them it was just one regular-season game out of 82. Sure, it was a big win. Tim Thomas made 26 saves and Vancouver native Milan Lucic scored the winner. It was a feel-good night, for sure.

But that doesn’t mean the Bruins will take the league’s No. 1 seed lightly this week. Vancouver cruised to a Northwest Division title, and led the NHL with 117 points, 10 more than any other team.

After the Bruins practiced at home Monday before taking off for Vancouver, they were complimentary of their opponent.

“Obviously they’re a President’s Trophy winner, they’re a great hockey team, deep and well coached, and we’ll look at things we have to do,” forward Mark Recchi said. “Any key to your team’s success is how you play personally. I think we focus on what we do ourselves. Our coaching staff will give us their tendencies, and their coaching staff will give them our tendencies. It’s who’s going to want it more and who’s going to play to their abilities the best.”

Game 1 will be Wednesday night. By the time the puck drops, the Canucks, who defeated San Jose in five games to win the Western Conference title, will have had seven days off.

“Well, they’re a great team, they have a lot of depth,” forward Patrice Bergeron said. “They’re good on all positions and it’s going to be a tough series and we’re aware of that. Obviously we’re going to have to take it a game at a time and we’re going to have to concentrate on Wednesday right now.”

The Canucks have many threats, notably Daniel and Henrik Sedin, twin forwards who, with forward Ryan Kesler and goaltender Roberto Luongo, have led this Vancouver renaissance. The Sedins have 37 points this postseason, and Daniel has eight goals.

In the regular season, Daniel had 41 goals and Henrik had 75 assists.

“You want to try to not be overaggressive because once you do that, they spin off of you and that’s what they want to try to accomplish, be one guy and then two on the next,” Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. “They’re really good at finding each other, with the give-and-gos and the blind pass behind the back. So that’s a real challenge for us, to be aggressive but not be stupid about it. So we have to be smart in our defensive play.”

Kesler could be the x-factor. Too much concentration on the Sedins, and the rugged, 6-foot-2, 195-pound center from Livonia, Mich., will pounce. In his breakout year this season, Kesler scored 41 goals. He’s followed that with seven goals and 11 assists in the playoffs.

“There’s a lot of skill, there’s a lot of speed,” Boston Coach Claude Julien said of the Canucks. “Their back end has a lot of versatility and they love to carry the puck up the ice a lot. They’re a pretty potent team and obviously they thrive on their power play. We’re going to have to be a physical team. But we’re also going to have to be a very disciplined team.”

Which is why practice has been toned down as Game 1 approaches. The Bruins have played 18 times this postseason, including two seven-game series. Vancouver has played one seven-game series, a win over Chicago in Round 1.

“Guys that have played a lot, they could benefit from two days of non-skating. The conditioning doesn’t go bad,” Julien said. “(On Monday), we came back on the ice as a whole team.”