Wednesday, February 6th, 7:30p, Bell Centre, Montreal
TV: NBC Sports Network, RDS, TSN Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub
Congratulations NBC Sports Network, after weeks of trying you finally got the concept of ‘Wednesday Night Rivalry’ right. Don’t get me wrong, the blood boiling hatred brewing between the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild (?) was good, but a match-up between the Bruins and Canadiens is probably a little better. The Canadiens are off to a fast start, currently sitting only one point behind the Bruins in the Northeast, and have won their last two in a row at home. The Bruins are coming off a rebound victory against the Leafs, and will be looking to start a new streak of their own.
Montreal Notes: The big news recently out of Montreal is obviously the resigning of P.K. Subban, everyone’s favorite flop artist. Someone also apparently forgot to tell the Canadiens that their forwards are supposed to be doing the scoring, as right now their top two scorers are defensemen Andrei Markov and Raphael Diaz with eight points a piece.
All kidding aside, the Canadiens are playing pretty well. Veterans Tomas Plekanec and Erik Cole have been contributing, Max Pacioretty seems no worse for the wear after emergency appendectomy surgery, and Rene Bourque seems to be getting comfortable in a Habs uniform after being traded last year. On top of that, rookie Alex Galchenyuk, whom you might remember from this year’s World Junior Championship, is also playing extremely well with seven points (1G, 6A) in his first eight games, tied for third best on the team. Similar to the Sabres, the Habs also tried to toughen up in the offseason, adding Brandon Prust to the mix (leads the team with 46 PIM) to complement Travis Moen and Ryan White.
With Markov healthy the Canadiens’ blue line is solid, especially with Subban back in the mix. Raphael Diaz is still relatively young and is showing himself as a weapon in his own right. Old friend Tomas Kaberle is even seeing some time in the top six as well. The Bruins can expect to see Carey Price back in net, and there’s no doubt he’ll elevate his game as he usually does against the Black and Gold.
Boston Notes: This should be an interesting game for the Bruins. While the B’s usually have the depth advantage against most teams, this could be quite a test. Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille didn’t make the trip, and Brad Marchand will still be a game time decision even though he practiced today. Ryan Spooner has been called up, and there is a chance he could make his NHL debut. Jamie Tardif and Lane MacDermid will also still be in the mix, though they didn’t see much ice after the second period against the Leafs. Forward Chris Bourque almost surely will keep his spot with Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly on the third line.
There has been no shortage of scoring chances lately for the Bruins, but they’ll have to work hard to continue that trend with a potentially mixed lineup. Tyler Seguin still hasn’t potted a goal with a goalie in the net, and though not quite on Phil Kessel level, folks are starting to notice. The Bruins big guns will need to make sure they step up in this one.
Luckily the Bruins should be relatively healthy on the blue line, and the defense will be looking to build on a strong effort against the Leafs. Captain Zdeno Chara has been struggling a little of late, so the B’s will need a strong and physical effort out of him and likely partner Johnny Boychuk to try to contain the speedy Canadien forwards. Dougie Hamilton will get his first taste of the Bruins/Canadiens rivalry, most likely along side Dennis Seidenberg again. Andrew Ference and Adam McQuaid should round out the six defenders.
Tuukka Rask should get another start in between the pipes, with Anton Khudobin still backing him up.
Other Game Notes:
- Fight Card: With Prust in the lineup the Canadiens may try to flex their muscle a little, making him the likely contender for a bout. Travis Moen and Ryan White are the other candidates that have scrapped against the B’s before. With Shawn Thornton out Lane MacDermid (if he dresses) might be looking to continue his streak after going two rounds against Toronto. Adam McQuaid might also be willing to drop ‘em if needed. Then of course there’s always the opportunity for a good ol’ fashioned donnybrook between these two teams.
- Seguin: We mentioned it above, but this would be a good game for Seguin to get on the board and could go a long way towards getting his confidence back. His speed will be an asset as Montreal is fast themselves, but they don’t play an overly physical defensive game.
- The Bruins have been most successful offensively when the get pucks through and on net, and that strategy would serve them well again. Price is working on a .938 save percentage and a 1.70 GAA, so he’s making the stops on what he sees. High traffic and a solid net front presence have to be a focus if the B’s want to take points out of this game.
To get you in the mood: