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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Canadiens, Thursday December 16th

The Bruins (16-9-4) will get a second chance to climb to a tie atop the Northeast Division this evening, when they take on the hated Montreal Canadiens (18-11-2) at the Bell Centre, north of the border.

Boston found themselves just two points behind the Habs in the standings heading into last night’s action, but the B’s fell to Buffalo, 3-2, with the help of a hat trick from the Sabres’ Drew Stafford. Thankfully, Montreal lost last night as well, falling to the Flyers, 5-3. That sets up tonight’s matchup, where with a win, the B’s can match the 38-point total the Habs are currently sporting, atop the division. Boston also has two games in hand over Montreal.

There sure is plenty to cover before tonight’s tilt, so let’s get right to it…

  • The buzz around the B’s last night… where was Tyler Seguin? Seguin was out of action Saturday with flu-like symptoms, but by all accounts he was healthy and prepared to skate in last night’s game against the Sabres. Instead, the rookie found himself up in the press box, with head coach Claude Julien opting to activate Daniel Paille. It was the first time Seguin was a healthy scratch this season. Here’s hoping we see the youngster back in the lineup this evening, otherwise the roster questioning will certainly escalate.
  • This will be the second of six meetings this season between these two bitter rivals. Back on Veterans Day, Montreal came into TD Garden and escaped with a 3-1 win.
  • Tonight is the last home game of the calendar year for the Canadiens. After tonight, the Habs embark on a seven-game road trip that starts in Colorado.
  • Last night’s loss to the Flyers extended Montreal’s losing streak to three games. It’s their first three-game losing streak of the season.
  • The Habs got Scott Gomez back in the lineup last night, but will be without defenseman Andrei Markov for the remainder of the season, after the veteran went through knee surgery.
  • Scoring may be hard to come by for both squads tonight. Boston ranks first in GAA at 1.93, with Montreal right behind them in second at 2.13. The two teams also excel on the penalty kill, with the Canadiens topping the league ranks at 88.7%, and the B’s in fourth at 85.9%.
  • Montreal’s scoring is led by center Tomas Plekanec (10G, 17A) and Mike Cammalleri (10G, 13A), who has three goals and three assists on his current five-game points streak.
  • Carey Price will likely be in goal tonight for Montreal. Price is 17-9-2 with a 2.07GAA this season. He is backed up by former Bruin Alex Auld (1-2-0, 2.01GAA).
  • Last night, Mark Recchi became the ninth player in NHL history to play 1,600 games. Tonight, defenseman Andrew Ference will play in his 600th NHL game, and winger Michael Ryder will skate in his 500th.
  • NHL All-Star voting remains open and your favorite Bruins need your help! As of Tuesday’s vote tally, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby leads all forwards and Kris Letang leads all defenseman. Montreal’s Carey Price has a slight edge over the Pens’ Marc-Andre Fleury in the top spot amongst goaltenders. Right now, the top Bruins forward is Patrice Bergeron, who ranks 35th in votes, the top B’s defenseman is Zdeno Chara, who ranks 13th, and Tim Thomas has the fourth-most votes among NHL goaltenders. The All-Star Game & Skills Competition will be held in Raleigh, North Carolina during the last weekend of January. You can cast your vote at NHL.com.
  • Lastly, “24/7: The Road to the Winter Classic,” premiered last night on HBO. The four-episode series features unprecedented behind-the-scenes, all-access footage of both the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, leading up to their meeting in this season’s Winter Classic, being played at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on New Year’s Day. For those who missed the first episode last night, it will be replayed several times in the next few days, so check your local listings. The final episode is scheduled to air on January 5th.

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