Feb 2, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Boston Bruins center Chris Kelly (23) faces off against Toronto Maple Leafs center Mikhail Grabovski (84) at the Air Canada Centre. The Bruins beat the Maple Leafs 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

It's "Canada Day" for Bruins, Celtics

Having cold Canadian air inundate Boston with single digit temperatures, you’d think Boston’s sports teams would want to get south, get some sun.

Instead both the Celtics and Bruins travel north of the border tonight for contests with their Canadian counterparts.  The Celtics are in Toronto to take on the bottom-feeding Toronto Raptors in NBA action, while the NHL’s condensed schedule finds the Bruins in Montreal to take on the hated Habs.

Feb 01, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics power forward Kevin Garnett (5) and head coach Doc Rivers share a hand-shake during a break in the action against the Orlando Magic in the second half at the TD Garden. The Celtics defeated the Orlando Magic 97-84. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

For the Celtics, the Raptors represent the opportunity to extend their winning streak to 5 games, to climb two games above .500 and for the new look spread offense to gain a little more traction.

Winners of four straight since losing All Star point guard Rajon Rondo, the Celtics have run almost exclusively in the spread, which relies on quick, crisp passing and players moving without the ball – in effect, creating space which will eventually leave someone open with a good look at the basket.

Jason Terry, for one, is enjoying the change.

“It’s free-wheeling and the defense can’t sit on particular plays” Terry gushed. “This league is great with scouting and they get used to you and they kind of know your tendencies. So in this offense it’s very unpredictable. We don’t know who’s going to get the shot, but we know we’re going to get a good one.”

Canada has not been kind to the Celtics of late, as they have dropped three of their last four in Tornonto.  Conversely, the Bruins tend to enjoy their jaunts north of the Border, and took 4 out of 6 from the Canadiens overall last season…but Boston Center Rich Perverley knows that nothing’s a given going into the Bell Centre in Montreal.

“Obviously, it’s one of the rowdiest places to play, especially when we’re playing there,” Peverley said. “They’re playing really well right now and when a team’s confident, that’s pretty dangerous. They’re playing well and obviously their fans are happy, so we’ve got to go in there and play our game.”

The Bruins lead the Northeast Division at 6-1-1 and, as it should be with bitter rivals, the Habs are right on the Bruins’ heels at 6-2-0.  The winner has first place all to themselves.

“I think it’s a great rivalry for us against that team, but you’ve got to acknowledge the fact that they are probably better than a lot of people had given them credit for,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “They give us good games all the time and that’s the fun part about it. We go over there and we’re excited about playing that team.”

The game should be a physical affair, and the Bruins left Boston without their enforcer, tough guy Shawn Thornton who is recovering from a concussion received when he took several right hands from Buffalo’s John Scott in a loss to the Sabres last week.

Chowder and Champions will recap both contests immediately after they go final.

Tags: Boston Bruins Boston Celtics Montreal Canadiens Toronto Raptors

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