Montreal (29-28-6) at Boston (27-22-11) –
Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010.
48 hours after two rival nations faced each
other for Olympic Gold, another classic rivalry resumes as the Boston Bruins
host the Montreal Canadiens. Both squads are among the teams fighting for
a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, sitting 7th and 8th. With about 20
games remaining in the regular season, every match is crucial. The Habs stumbled
into the Olympic Break, losing a home-and-away series with the Philadelphia
Flyers that featured many Hamilton Bulldog call-ups. The two week break
helped some regulars mend up, and the Habs will ice almost a full complement of
healthy players. The Bruins entered the Break on a 4-game winning
streak, and will be looking to distance themselves from their Northeast
competition. Montreal currently leads the
season-series 3 games to 1, but Boston won the last game on February 7th by a
score of 3-0.
Montreal is 4-5-1 in their last 10 games while the Bruins are 4-3-3 over the
With Jaroslav Halak (17-10-2, 2.56 GAA, .923
SV%) playing every game for his native Slovakia during the Olympics, Jacques
Martin has opted to go with Carey Price (12-18-4, 2.80 GAA, .911 SV%) in net.
Tuukka Rask (14-7-4, 2.08 GAA, .928 SV%) earned a shutout in his last outing
against the Habs, so it’s likely that Tim Thomas (13-15-7, 2.52 GAA, .915 SV%)
will reprise his USA Olympic role and sit on the bench. Rask is 1-1-1
all-time against Montreal, with a 1.76 GAA and .938 save percentage, while Price
owns an impressive 8-2-2 all-time record versus Boston with a 2.51 GAA and .921
Tomas Plekanec returns home from Vancouver
without an Olympic medal, but remains the Canadiens’ leading scorer with 60
points (17G, 43A) through 63 games. Although linemate Mike Cammalleri
(26G, 22A) is still sidelined with injury, Plekanec will be reunited with Andrei
Kostitsyn (12G, 13A) who was on a hot streak before being injured on New Year’s
Eve. Scott Gomez (10G, 32) and Brian Gionta (17G, 14A) round out the
scoring leaders for Montreal. Olympic Gold medalist Patrice Bergeron (12G, 25A)
leads the goal-starved Bruins in points, compiling slightly more than Zdeno
Chara (5G, 28A), Blake Wheeler (13G, 18A) and perennial scoring threat Marc
Savard (9G, 22A).
Neither team has shown any consistency at
lighting the red lamp, but Montreal (2.52 goals per game, 25th) fares marginally
better than the Bruins (2.35 goals per game, 30th). It is no surprise that
Claude Julien’s Bruins succeed on defense (2.42 GAA, 4th) where Martin’s
defensive "system" sputters inconsistently (2.76 GAA, 15th). There is a
clear advantage with the man advantage for Montreal, as the Habs sit in 2nd
overall with a 24.6% success rate while the Bruins rank 17th with 18.1%.
Both teams do well on the penalty-kill, but Boston (86%, 3rd) ranks higher than
Montreal (83.5%, 7th). In the four matchups this season, Montreal has gone 1
for 8 on the powerplay while Boston has gone 1 for 16.
With Andrei Kostitsyn, Benoit Pouliot and Paul
Mara returning from injury, Montreal will only be missing Mike Cammalleri (MCL)
and MA Bergeron (knee). Neither player will accompany the Habs on their
road trip and are likely looking at a mid-March return. Tom Pyatt was
called up on Sunday and will be the 13th forward. Boston will be
minus the services of Patrick Bergeron (groin), Mark Stuart (finger), and Johnny Boychuk (eye). This
game marks the first of a 4-game road trip that will encompass the March 3rd Trade
The game can be seen on RDS and NESN.
Game-time is 7pm EST.
This preview was written by Matt