Well, it’s about that time of year again, nothing like ringing in the holidays with some good ol’ fashioned hate. We sit well past the quarter mark of the 2013-14 NHL season, but Thursday night will be the first meeting so far this year between the Bruins and their rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. Read on for the preview.
Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens
Thursday, December 5th – 7:30pm – Bell Centre, Montreal
TV: NESN, RDS Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub
If you needed any explanation of how this works, Claude Julien summed it up today to Comcast Sports Net’s Joe Haggerty. “There is plenty of hatred, and I say that as a rivalry, on both sides,” said Julien. “From the time I was with the Nordiques I hated the Canadiens, and yet I grew up a Canadiens fan. Then you go back and work [in Montreal], and then you become a fan again. Now I’m with the Boston Bruins, and rivalry-wise you don’t like them. It really is deep down where you are, and how you feel. Right now I don’t like [the Canadiens], and I really don’t like them on that side because I am a Boston Bruin right now.”
The black and gold enter tomorrow night’s game winners of seven of their last ten games, rebounding nicely from a trouncing in Detroit with back-to-back wins over the Rangers and Blue Jackets. The B’s got major contributions during those two games from some of their top players, certainly a positive sign heading into some tough games over the next two weeks. David Krejci and Milan Lucic are the top two scorers on the team at the moment, with 21 and 20 points respectively. You can bet Tuukka Rask will be between the pipes for Boston, in search of his fifteenth win of the year.
Perhaps of the most concern is the Bruins blue line, which has been dealing with some injuries over the past few weeks. Adam McQuaid re-aggravated a groin injury and will not travel with the team, while Torey Krug, who is third on the team in goals with seven, will make the trip but is still nursing some bumps and bruises after taking a heavy slap shot to the foot late in the Columbus game. He skated with the team today after taking a day off, so we’ll have to see how he’s feeling come game time. Kevan Miller, who played three games in the absence of Dennis Seidenberg recently, was recalled from Providence and will be with the team as well.
It will certainly be interesting to see how a number of new(-ish) faces deal with being front and center for the best rivalry in sports. Jarome Iginla has already said that he’s looking forward to it, with the Habs beefing up a little bit like a number of other Eastern Conference teams, there should be no shortage of electricity in the air tomorrow night.
Like the Bruins the Habs are winners of seven of their last ten, and currently reside just three points behind the B’s in the Atlantic Division. P.K. Subban is actually playing some of the best hockey of his career right now, leading the team with 24 points (4G, 20A) and tallying points in five of his last seven games. Forward Max Pacioretty leads the team in goals with ten, while youngsters Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher (Montreal’s version of Brad Marchand) are making their mark with 18 and 15 points respectively. The Habs have also added George Parros to complement Brandon Prust, Ryan White and Travis Moen in the toughness department, so stay tuned to see who gets the call at game time (unless they want to dress them all, which is fine too).
Though Subban and Andrei Markov (18 points) are playing well, beyond them on the blue line is a bit of a question mark. Raphael Diaz and Josh Gorges are decent but will likely have their hands full with a deep contingent of Bruins forwards, and Alexei Emelin may want to steer clear of Milan Lucic this time around. Francis Bouillon and Douglas Murray have been downright atrocious this year with -11 and -7 ratings on a team with a +17 goal differential, so again, stay tuned to see who gets the call.
You can be pretty sure Carey Price will be in the Montreal net, and he’s been quite good this year with a 2.00 goals against average and a .937 save percentage.