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Montreal Canadiens (40-27-7)


Boston Bruins (40-22-10)

March 24th, 2011. 

One must wonder if retribution is on the minds of the Montreal Canadiens as
they visit the Boston Bruins tonight.  While it may seem like an eternity, it was just over two weeks ago when Zdeno Chara viciously checked Max
Pacioretty into a Bell Centre stanchion, fracturing his vertebrae in the
process.  Although Pacioretty is recovering as best as can be expected,
there would seem to be more to this game than just the 2 points up for grabs. 
Montreal sits just 3 points behind Boston in the standings, and they would surely
love to exchange positions with the Bruins to claim home-ice advantage for the
1st round of the playoffs.  Montreal has won 4 of the 5 matchups so far
this year, but the storyline of late has been the physical toil the Bruins take
on the Canadiens, bereft of any supplementary NHL discipline.

Despite taking a therapy day yesterday, Carey Price (34-25-6, 2.35 GAA, .922
SV%) will look to build upon his impressive season as he takes to the net
tonight.  Price has started all games against Boston this year and boasts a
4-1-0 record with a 2.97 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage. 
Claude Julien has yet to announce his starter for tonight, but Tim Thomas
(30-10-8, 2.06 GAA, .937 SV%) currently owns the best
goals-against average and save percentage in the NHL. Despite his amazing year, Thomas has struggled against the Canadiens this
year (1-1-1, 4.28 GAA, .888 SV%), so it’s possible that Tuukka Rask (10-12-2, 2.75
GAA, .917 SV%) might earn the start for this evening.

Even with missing the last 4 games with a lower-body injury, Tomas Plekanec
leads the Canadiens in scoring with 21 goals and 32 assists.  James
Wisniewski (10G, 37A) places second while Brian Gionta (26G, 15A), Mike
Cammalleri (16G, 25A) and Andrei Kostitsyn (19G, 22A) are all tied for third on
the team.  The Bruins are led by the likes of David Krejci (12G, 44A),
Milan Lucic (30G, 25A), Patrice Bergeron (22G, 31A) and Nathan Horton (20G,

This "scoring by committee" approach has worked well for the Bruins, as they
average 2.99 goals per game (5th in the NHL), and rank considerably higher than
Montreal (2.66 GPG, 22nd).  Both teams are adept defensively, but the
Bruins’ defence (2.38 GAA) has fared better than the injury-riddled Canadiens
(2.49 GAA).  Montreal wins the battle of special teams on paper, as they
best the Bruins’ number in both powerplay and shorthanded situations.  The
Canadiens boast a 19.4% conversion rate on the powerplay and an 83.6%
penalty-kill rate while the Bruins’ numbers are 16.4% and 81.8% respectively. In
the season-series thus far, Montreal has gone 9 for 22 (40.9%) with the man
advantage, while Boston has gone 2 for 18 (11.1%).

Montreal may still be without 8 regulars tonight, as Andrei Markov (knee), Josh
Gorges (knee), Jaroslav Spacek (knee), and Max Pacioretty
(neck/concussion) are all out for sure. Mathieu Darche (groin), Jeff Halpern (lower body), Tomas Plekanec (lower body) and
Brent Sopel (hand) are all questionable.  Boston will be minus the
services of Marc Savard (concussion), Trent Whitfield (foot) and Shane Hnidy

Game-time is approximately 7:10 PM EST and the game can be viewed on RDS and