Boston and Montreal came out of the gates in completely alternate fashions, and continue to do so. Montreal had begun the season flying with a 12-3-1 record including two wins over Boston in those first 16 games while the Bruins stumbled out of the starting blocks with an 8-13-5 count, which found the Bruins near the basement of the Eastern Conference.
Ah but how the tides have turned, the Bruins traded their franchise player Joe Thornton to San Jose and although the immediate results were not spectacular the Bruins have now found their bearings and have begun their climb up the Eastern Conference ladder boasting an 8-3-3 record in their last 13 games. The Canadiens who have only won 9 of their last 25 games have fallen from the top ranks in the east right out of a playoff spot.
Goaltending seemed to hinder both teams slightly at the beginning of the year although Montreal still seemed to eke out wins the Bruins did not. Now with injures to both of the Bruins top 2 goalies career minor leaguer Tim Thomas has grabbed the reins and has shown his dominance in the new NHL with a more than impressive 6-1-2 record a .940 save percentage and a 1.96 GAA, not to mention he shut out the leagues most potent offence the Ottawa Senators. Now with Jose Theodore unable to jump any mental hurdles and regain his confidence his GAA has jumped to 3.46 and save percentage stumbled to .881. Theodore will likely not be important in this meeting, as Cristobal Huet is believed to be getting the start in goal.
Where did they go!
Theodore is not the only player not performing there is quite a long list, and it starts at the top. Habs goal scoring leader Michael Ryder has scored once in his last 7 games, Saku Koivu and Alex Kovalev have both been held pointless in 4 of their last 5 games and are a combined –8 in those contests. And as for the defence they are hanging their heads as well, Souray and Dandenault are a combined –10 in their last 5 games.
Notes: Jan Bulis did not accompany the team to Boston but may still join them tonight. The Canadiens have not won two consecutive road games since November 4th. Last time these teams met Montreal trailed by 1 in the third period but Ribeiro and Perezhogin scored power play goals to seal the victory. Jose Theodore made 20 saves on 23 shots. Boston forward Brad Boyes is on a seven game point streak with 4 goals and 7 assists during that period.