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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Canadiens, Friday 12-4

The Bruins (14-8-5) head north of the border this evening to the Bell Centre in Montreal to face off against the Canadiens (12-14-2). It was 100 years to the day, back in 1909, that the Montreal Canadiens franchise was born, and so the B’s will have to endure a rather lengthy set of pregame festivities before tonight’s skate against their historic Original Six rival.

Boston comes into the game as one of the hottest teams in the league, currently enjoying a 6-0-1 stretch in their last seven games, and just one regulation loss in their last 12. The Habs on the other hand, are losers of their last four, including last night’s 6-2 thumping at the hands of division leading Buffalo. With just 26 points in 28 games, Montreal finds themselves on the outside looking in on the early playoff picture, currently sitting in a tie for 12th in the East with Florida.

Let’s take a closer look at the “bleu, blanc, et rouge,” heading into tonight’s big Original Six tilt…

  • Scoring may be at a premium this evening, as both of tonight’s combatants feature below-average offenses. The Habs currently rank next to last in the NHL at a woeful 2.29 goals per game, ahead of only Carolina’s 2.18. Boston, while hot as of late, isn’t much better on the year, ranked 27th at 2.33. Both teams’ power play units also have seen their struggles this season. Montreal, with a 16.9% mark, ranks 25th, while Boston’s 17.0% mark is good for 24th. Montreal has just 83 power play opportunities on the season, a league low.
  • The injury bug has hit the Habs pretty hard as of late. Montreal will be without ex-BC Eagle Brian Gionta, who nurses a broken foot. Also sidelined for the Canadiens tonight will be defenseman Andrei Markov (ankle) and newly acquired forward Benoit Pouliot (hand). Old friend Hal Gill, who has been out the last 14 games with a broken foot of his own, is likely to return to the lineup this evening.
  • Scoring for the Habs is led by center Tomas Plekanec, who has six goals and a team-high 19 assists on the year. Following Plekanec on the stat sheet is winger Mike Cammalleri (12G, 10A), who had the game-winner in the shootout of the first meeting between these two teams, a game that ended as a 2-1 Montreal win back on November 5th.
  • Early indications from this morning’s team skate point to tonight being a matchup of two #1 goaltenders, Carey Price (7-10-2, 2.86GAA) for the Habs against Boston’s Tim Thomas. Price is backed up by Jaroslav Halak (5-4-0, 2.99GAA). Halak was in net last night, giving up six goals to the Sabres.
  • Beyond the local ties Gionta and Gill have to the area, also highlighted on the Montreal roster are ex-Bruins Paul Mara and Glen Metropolit.

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