Montreal Canadiens (9-5-1) at Boston Bruins (8-3-1)
Coming off the heels of an impressive 2-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, the Canadiens head to Beantown to face their arch-rivals in a key division battle. Although Montreal currently sits atop the Northeast Division, Boston holds three games in hand and are only 2 points behind the Habs. Nonetheless, le Tricolore can at least take comfort in the fact that, last year, they dominated the season series, winning all but one contest and allowing only 10 goals in the process.
And, if Montreal wishes for continued success versus the Bruins, their defence must again be particularly strong this year. Boston owns the second-best offense in the league and is led by a surprising group of resurgent forwards. The oft-maligned Nathan Horton tops the team with a production of 13 points while super-pest Milan Lucic and former Hab Michael Ryder are not far behind with 11 and 10 points respectively. In addition, the B’s are one of the better special team squads, ranking seventh on the powerplay and boasting the league’s best penalty kill. Of course, in light of Tim Thomas’ stellar play, the latter should hardly be surprising. The American goaltender has been dominant, going undefeated in eight starts and posting a striking .953 save percentage. However, as the Bruins played last night, look for Tukka Rask to get the nod versus the Habs. The 23-year old has yet to win a decision this season, but his 2.66 goals against average and .921 save percentage are hardly something to scoff at.
Unsurprisingly, Carey Price, who has been a workhorse thus far, seems once again slated to start for the Canadiens. He currently boasts an 8-5-1 record along with a .918 save percentage. However, unlike his Boston counterparts, he has not received the same amount of offensive support, especially of late. In spite of finally producing a man-advantage tally versus the Cancuks, the Habs still rank last on the powerplay and their offense sits at 25th overall. Tomas Plekanec continues to lead the team in scoring and Andrei Kostitsyn sits second on the team with 10 points, but is pointless in his last six contests.
Montreal has no significant injuries to report. The trio of Ryan O’Byrne, Alexandre Picard and Dustin Boyd seem again poised to watch the game from the pressbox. As for Boston, Marc Savard, Marco Sturm and Johnny Boychuk continue to be out indefinitely while David Krejci is doubtful due to a concussion he suffered last week.
Puck drops at 7:00 pm and the game will air on RDS, TSN and NESN in the United States.