Matchup: Boston Bruins (18-7-2) vs. Montreal Canadiens (17-9-3)
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
The Boston Bruins will host the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night, as the two clubs will renew their bitter rivalry for the first time this season. These clubs will not see each other again until January 30 following the tilt.
Boston, having earned points in eight of their last 10 games, currently holds a one-point lead over Montreal for first place in the Atlantic Division standings. The Canadiens are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. With first place up for grabs, this one figures to be a dandy.
The Canadiens boast a bevy of offensive talent. P.K. Subban leads the team in points, having notched 24 of them from his blue line position. Max Pacioretty has netted 10 goals and gives Montreal a force to be reckoning with in the low-slot area. Tomas Plekanec, Alex Galchenyuk and Andrei Markov are just a few, among many other Candien players, having a highly productive season.
Carey Price will be manning the Montreal crease and he has been lights all season, playing to a 12-8-2 record. With that being said, it would not be surprising if the winner of this game were to be determined by the side benefitting more from quality goaltending. Tuukka Rask and Price share almost identical numbers, separated by a miniscule margin in both goals against and save percentage.
Though it’s not Price, Montreal’s dynamic attack, nor the chaotic Bell Centre crowd that the Bruins need to be worried about. Claude Julien’s team must start fast and establish their game right out of the gate. If they fail to do so, Montreal could easily go ahead early, sending the Bruins spiraling out of control, similar in fashion to their recent meltdown in Detroit.
Setting the tone in the season series will be key for Boston. Based on how successful this two have been, every point is valuable in the race for the Atlantic crown.