In the last of six meetings this season, the Bruins (30-24-12) travel north of the border to Montreal’s Bell Centre tonight to take on the streaking Canadiens (34-29-6).
Montreal is riding a four-game win streak, coming off a shootout win over the Oilers Thursday, and have won five of six since returning from the Olympic break. The Habs have climbed to a tie for sixth in the East, equaling the Flyers at 74 points. Two points behind them sit the Bruins, whose 72 points are good for the eighth and final playoff spot, just three points ahead of the ninth-place Rangers.
Plenty to talk about heading into this one, with lots on the line for Boston’s playoff positioning. Let’s dive right into some pre-game notes, leading into tonight’s skate with the hated Habs…
During Montreal’s four-game win streak, the team has put up a Capitals-esque 3.67 goals per game, with Jaroslav Halak minding the net in all four contests. According to early reports today, expect Halak in net tonight for the Habs. Halak is 21-10-2 with a 2.54GAA. Carey Price (13-19-4, 2.82GAA), who is 3-0-0 vs. Boston this season with a 0.97GAA in those three games, will back up Halak.
Forward Maxim Lapierre will make his return to the lineup tonight after serving a four-game suspension. Who knew the league actually suspends guys for illegal hits? Just when they feel like it, I guess…
In terms of the bumped and bruised, Montreal has a pair of knee injuries that will keep two of their stars out in Mike Cammalleri and Marc-Andre Bergeron. Boston will of course be without center Marc Savard, along with defenseman Andrew Ference (groin). Miroslav Satan, who missed Thursday’s game, will be a game-time decision after practicing with the team yesterday. If he can’t go, look for Brad Marchand to be back in the lineup.
Scoring for Montreal is led by center Tomas Plekanec (20G, 44A), followed by Scott Gomez (12G, 38A) and injured forward Mike Cammalleri (26G, 22A).
The Habs feature a trio of former Bruins, led by center Glen Metropolit, who has a career-high 15 goals this season. Also on the Montreal roster from Bruins days gone by are a pair of defensemen, Paul Mara and Hal Gill.
Patrice Bergeron, now centering the top forward line alongside Marco Sturm and Mark Recchi, has five points in the last two games. His team-leading 43 points has helped pace the offense all season long. Behind Bergeron on the stat sheet is a quartet of Bruins, all tied at 35 points: Sturm, Recchi, Zdeno Chara, and David Krejci.
Tonight’s game features the league’s second-best power play unit (Montreal, 23.4%) against one of the league’s top penalty killing teams (Boston, 86.0% – tie for first w/ STL).