Viva le Resistance! Bruins visit "Les Habitants"
Boston Bruins (6-1-1) at Montreal Canadiens (6-2-0)
The greatest rivals in all of sports (sorry Red Sox and Yankees) meet for the first of four games tonight. Despite Montreal's pathetic showing in the standings last year, they really didn't play that terribly against the Bruins. Boston won four of those six matchups but every game was tight and entertaining. The Habs are "new and improved" with a new General Manager, new coach, no Scott Gomez, PK Subban playing for almost nothing, a new Carey Price and no longer being the biggest embarrassment to hockey fans (they have Sabres fans to thank for that!)...oh and here's something new...a winning record!
Bear Force One had some empty seats on the flight to Montreal last night, no Shawn Thornton and no Dan Paille, both players remain in Boston, recovering. There have been reports that Thornton has been improving from his concussion and actually skated on Monday. Brad Marchand did make the trip to Montreal after leaving the game Saturday after a collision with the goal post against Toronto. Marchand was cleared to return in the third period however Coach Julien erred on the side of caution and kept him off the ice. He skated with the second "gold" line at practice on Tuesday, but so did Gregory Campbell, as a fourth gold jersey. Reports from morning skate Wednesday, say Marchand did not skate and will most likely not be taking ice against the Habs.
Ryan Spooner was called up from Providence to make the trip to Quebec and practiced on the Merlot Line with other "baby Bruins" Lane MacDermid and former Provy linemate, Jamie Tardif. Look for Soupy to move from energy line centerman to second line left winger as he did after Marchand left the game Saturday.
The Good News
It's never good news when three starters (including your lead goal scorer) are out, however, its not devastating when you have a guy like Gregory Campbell stepping up and a new fourth line that has experience playing together. On any other team Campbell would be a second line guy, hey even a first line guy some places. His ability to move from center to wing is something that Coach Julien and GM Peter Chiarelli look for in their Bruins...think Tyler Seguin and Spooner. Spooner who currently is tied with Tardif for the most points, thirty in thirty-five games, on Providence, also is sporting a plus twelve rating. The former linemates should click pretty easily with MacDermid.
Tuukka Rask. I know its difficult to forget the six goals he missed last Thursday, but most of those were in part to shotty defense which the Bruins immediately improved against Toronto Saturday night. Rask is still one of the hottest tendies in the league and seems to have shook off the loss went he shut out the Leafs.
The Bad News
Its never easy playing at the Bell Center, imagine 21,000 French Canadiens cheering on a team that actually has a winning record! I know, I have nightmares that start the same way. The Habs are off to a great start, averaging over three points per game in their first eight this season. David Desharnais is hot with three goals in his last two games and Carey Price has won six straight starts. That being said most of Montreal's games have been at home, which may help pad their record a bit.
The Canadiens also have new size with Brandon Prust who will probably be looking to throw his weight (and his gloves) around tonight. Also new, 18 year old and third overall draft pick in 2012, Alex Galchenyuk. The new kid has seven points in eight games and probably will want to properly introduce himself to his new rivals this evening.
Max Pacioretty is also back in action after recovering from an appendectomy.
The Bruins power play. Seriously guys, 28th in the league with 10% efficiency...how do you play so horribly with the man advantage yet are 32-34 on the penalty kill. This isn't just a fluke either, it seems like I'm writing the same thing every season regarding the power play. At this rate the Bruins are more likely to figure out who killed JFK than they are to figure out their PP.
Oh and to those Boston fans missing the "other" Finn, former Bruin Petteri Nokelainen will be out for the Habs tonight.
Tonight will be a challenge for the Black and Gold, but I see them edging out Montreal by one. Oh and anyone interested in taking a trip down memory lane check out my coverage of the Bruins Habs rivalry from last year right here.
Where To Find It
Centre Bell, Montreal, Quebec
TV: NBC Sports Network (no Jack Edwards...tear) 7pm
Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub
Where To Find Me
Keep your heads up and your sticks down! À plus tard mes amis!