After more than two weeks away, the NHL gets back to the ice this evening and your Boston Bruins (27-22-11) will be back at the TD Garden in search of their fifth straight win tonight, as they host hated rival, the Montreal Canadiens (29-28-6).
Montreal, who currently sits just one point behind Boston in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, won the first three matchups this season over Boston, but the B’s and hot goalie Tuukka Rask shut the Habs down on Super Bowl Sunday in their last meeting, winning 3-0 and ending the Bruins’ 10-game losing streak. It was the first of their four straight wins heading into the Olympic break.
Tonight’s game will also mark the last time these teams will hit the ice before Wednesday afternoon’s trade deadline, sure to make for an interesting day around the entire NHL. Boston GM Peter Chiarelli has been burning up the phone lines, in search mainly for a puck-moving defenseman and an offensive-minded winger, both of which will be extremely hard to come by and will come with high price tags in exchange. But as the league’s lowest-scoring team, look for Chiarelli to add some scoring punch to bolster his anemic offense before 3pm Wednesday.
Getting back tonight’s task at hand though, let’s dive in and take a closer look at some game notes heading into this Original Six rivalry game…
- Boston will be looking for their first win at TD Garden in 2010. Their last home win came on New Year’s Day at Fenway Park in the Winter Classic. Before that, their last Garden victory came over Atlanta on December 30th.
- Late news out of the team’s morning skate indicates that Canadian gold medalist and Bruins leading point man Patrice Bergeron will be out of the lineup tonight, nursing a slight groin pull he sustained in Sunday’s gold medal game against the U.S. Bergeron is considered day-to-day and hopes to return Thursday against Toronto. Beyond that, the B’s should be sporting a fully healthy lineup, with defensemen Mark Stuart (finger) and Johnny Boychuk (orbital bone) back in action, ready to suit up.
- The Canadiens will also be missing a Bergeron tonight, as defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron remains out for the Habs with an undisclosed lower-body injury. Also out for Montreal is the team’s leading goal scorer Mike Cammalleri, who is sidelined with a knee injury.
- While injuries have been a constant headline for Boston throughout this season, Montreal has battled just as many injuries as well. Both the Habs and B’s have only four roster members each that have appeared in every one of their team’s games. For Montreal, Tomas Plekanec, Travis Moen, Maxim Lapierre, and Josh Gorges have 63 games played on their stat lines, while in Boston, captain Zdeno Chara, veteran winger Mark Recchi, Blake Wheeler, and Michael Ryder have earned the perfect attendance award for the B’s thus far.
- Montreal boasts five players who appeared in the Olympic hockey tournament, but none who earned medals. Slovakia’s goalie Jaroslav Halak came closest, losing to Finland in the bronze medal game. For Boston, six players skated in Vancouver over the past two weeks, with Bergeron earning gold for Canada and goalie Tim Thomas taking home the silver as part of U.S.A.’s roster.
- According to early reports, both Halak and Thomas will not see action tonight, getting some added rest after their Vancouver voyage. Instead, Carey Price will start tonight for the Habs (12-18-4, 2.81GAA), who has two wins in two starts against Boston this season. Price is 8-2-2 lifetime against the Bruins. In goal for the B’s will be the league’s goals-against leader in Tuukka Rask (14-7-4, 2.08GAA), who looks to build on his four-game win streak.
- Leading the scoring for Montreal is center Tomas Plekanec (17G, 43A), followed by injured forward Mike Cammalleri (26G, 22A). Center Scott Gomez rounds out the team’s top three offensive stars (10G, 32A).
- Montreal’s powerful power play is second only to the mighty Capitals in scoring percentage, at 24.6%.
- Lastly, be sure to keep checking SportsofBoston.com leading up to Wednesday afternoon’s trade deadline, for all the big stories on player movement throughout the league.
Tags: Boston Bruins, Carey Price, Jaroslav Halak, Montreal Canadiens, Patrice Bergeron, Tim Thomas, Tomas Plekanec, Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara