Michael Ryder leads his Montreal Canadiens, currently riding a two game win streak, into Boston tonight to face the arch-rival Bruins. Along the way, the Habs have learned that Jan Bulis and Andrei Markov will be a gametime decision, while Jose Theodore will get the call in net. In the three previous games this season, the teams combined for a lowly six goals. Also of note, Andrew Raycroft will likely be squaring off in net for the Bruins, making things appear to be a near perfect showdown between two of the NHL’s best rookies in Raycroft and young Ryder.
Ryder is ‘ryding’ a streak of his own, it seems. With a four game point streak on the line, one which includes a two goal effort in the victory over Ottawa, Ryder sits just one goal behind the team’s top goal-scorer, Richard Zednik, and is only five points behind his current linemate in MIke Ribeiro. Ryder’s former centreman, Saku Koivu, is also enjoying some much-deserved offensive production. Koivu, with four points in his last two games, will play alongside Richard Zednik, but that’s all that we know. There is a possibility that Yanic Perreault could return to the trio, but his dismal performance on the left-wing last game could have him see time from the sidelines.
While there are many candidates to replace Bulis on Koivu’s wing, perhaps Jason Ward is the most likely. Ward enjoyed a few shifts with the big line against the Rangers, and despite his below-average hands, looked fairly comfortable and seemed to click well with his linemates, namely Koivu. Niklas Sundstrom could also make his way on to the top line if Julien decides that he could make better use of Perreault and Ward, elsewhere.
Raycroft, meanwhile, has been stellar all season long. The 23-year-old did not play in Boston’s previous game, meaning it is likely he will be well rested in preparation for the team he shut-out late last month. His goals against of 1.95 sits him in the league’s top-five, over .25 higher than that of Jose Theodore. Also of note are Raycroft’s impressive 21 victories, a number that has helped him steal the job from former number-one Felix Potvin.
Despite sitting third in the Northeast division, the Bruins are nine points ahead of the fourth place Habs, and look to increase that mark tonight. However, if the CH are getting pumped up to play there rival this early in the day, than energy from the get-go should be abundant when the puck drops at 7:00.