For the fifth time this season Boston Bruins (21-17-4) will hook up with the Montreal Canadiens (21-13-8). Montreal has won all of the four previous meetings this season by a combined margin of 19-8. The last time the Bruins beat the Canadiens was March 7th 2007, which was eight games ago. Montreal now leads the all time season series 329-253-103-4.
Tonight’s game is the fifth and final game of the Bruins longest home stand for the remainder of the season. Having picked up six of a possible eight points so far bodes well for Boston. Prior to this home stretch they had lost 7 of their last 8 games. Aaron Ward is expected to return to the Bruins line-up after missing eight games with a broken foot.
On the other hand the Canadiens are kicking off a four game road trip. The Habs have the 2nd best road record in the conference and have picked up at least a point in seven of their last contests away from the Bell Centre.
Cristobal Huet is slated to start for the Canadiens; Huet (12-6-5) has not lost in regulation since November 24th a span of 8 games. 200 feet away will be Tim Thomas (13-10-3). Thomas has been in goal for two of the Bruins losses to the Canadiens this season but have a 5-2-1 record in Boston since his last loss to the Canadiens.
Bryan Smolinski will return to the Canadiens line-up in favour of Corey Locke on the Canadiens fourth line. Smolinski suffered a knee injury December 6th in Boston. Tom Kostopoulos will also be replaced on the fourth line by Mathieu Dandenault who was scratched Tuesday. Dandenault has a goal and an assist in four games against Boston this year but has the worst +/- on the team.
1. Alex Kovalev did not score a single goal against the Bruins last season but has 3 already this year.
2. Tim Thomas has a career record of 4-10 against the Canadiens and has lost 4 straight to the Habs.
3. Cristobal Huet is 6-2 all time against Boston with a 1.91 goals against average.
4. Thursday nights have been great for the Canadiens this season having won 7 of their 8 Thursday games. Their only loss was to the Senators on October 18th in Ottawa.