February 4th, 2010 by

Pregame notes: Bruins vs. Canadiens | 7:00pm EST

The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens will be facing off for the 702nd time in their lifetime series tonight, 7pm EST, at the TD Garden. It is the second-most games played of any two NHL rivals in NHL history. The Black and Gold hold a 262-331-104-4 overall record with Montreal holding a 2,130-1,855 scoring scoring advantage in those games.

The last time these two Original Six teams met was exactly two months ago – in the second of six meetings – for Montreal’s Centennial game, at the Bell Centre. Boston lost both contests, and are in Dire Straits right now, desperately seeking a two-point victory to snap an eight-game winless streak – while the Habs look to make in two-in-a-row.  Now, two months later, it looks as if these two squads have virtually swapped positions in the standings.

Entering Dec. 4:
Montreal: 12-14-2, 4th in the Division and 12th in the East
Boston: 14-8-5, 2nd in the Northeast Division, 5th in the East

Away Team: Montreal Canadiens (26-25-6, 58 points, 3rd Northeast Division, 7th Eastern Conference, 13-14-2 away, 4-4-2 last 10 games)

  • ranked 27th in the NHL with 2.49 goals-for per game
  • 13th in the league with 2.67 goals-against
  • 25.2% success rate on the power play ranks the Habs 2nd overall in the NHL
  • 8th on the penalty-kill with a 83.5% success rate while short

Bruins killer of the season, Mike Cammalleri, suffered a  knee injury when he crashed into the boards during the Saturday Feb. 2 game against  Ottawa. The Canadiens’ leading goal scorer [26-22-48] – who scored the game-winning shootout goal on Nov. 4; and netted a hat-trick on Dec. 5 in victories over the Bruins earlier this season – will be sidelined for the next six-weeks.

After missing three games with an upper-body injury, Habs defenseman Jaroslav Spacek is expected to return tonight. Despite skating yesterday, however, Paul Mara (upper-body), will not. Andrei Kostitsyn [12-13-25 in 40 GP] underwent knee surgery last month and will be sidelined indefinitely.

Carey Price is 2-0-0 against the Bruins this season, but Jaroslav Halak [5-2-2, 2 SO, .907 SV% last nine stars] is expected to get the nod.

Tomas Plekanec: 3-3-6, plus-3, 20 shots on goal in his last five – including a two-game point streak.
Benoit Pouliot: is riding a two-game point streak with 1-2-3 totals.

Home Team: Boston Bruins (23-22-9, 55 points, 4th Northeast Division, 12th Eastern Conference, 13-12-4 at home, 1-7-2 last 10 games)

  • 30th in the NHL in goals-for with 2.32 per game
  • 6th in the league with  2.46 goals-against
  • 17.7% success rate on the power play ranks the B’s 19th overall in the NHL
  • 3rd on the penalty-kill with an 86.7% rate while short

Mark Stuart remains on the IR with a broken finger, and Andrew Ference – now practicing with the team – is still out with a groin injury. Defenseman Matt hunwick and forward Steve Begin were absent from practice yesterday. Byron Bitz and Vladimir Sobotka were healthy scratches on Tuesday night – and expect Tuukka Rask to get the nod between the pipes tonight for the B’s.

The Bruins are in the midst of an eight-game losing streak [0-6-2] and have been outscored 28-12 during that span. Despite the lack of goals, Boston has had their fair-share of scoring chances, and don’t credit the opposing goaltenders with their woes. With their valiant efforts these past few games in heartbreaking defeat, they know the goals will start coming, and the “W’s” will soon follow.

“Well, that’s the thing.  It’s just a matter of sticking with it.  It’s tough, trust me, it’s tough.  I’ve been in these situations before and I think a lot of guys have, so hopefully that can pull us through.” Marc Savard said on Tuesday night after their 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals. “But we keep getting efforts like that and it feels like our whole Bruins are coming, we’re coming, the guys are coming one line after the other and it’s just got to go in.  When that floodgate opens… I hope it opens for a while.”

The line of Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, and Michael Ryder pulled-out a solid performance on Tuesday – accounting for 15 of the Bruins’ 42 total shots on goal – and showed glimpses of their success of last season. Krejci netted the B’s lone goal while creating countless scoring opportunities for the trio. Some got robbed by Capitals goalie Jose Theodore; others were just failed and missed chances to help their cause. But keeping their composure, continuing the efforts, and not getting down or frustrated remains key.

“it’s definitely frustrating when you get all those chances and you’re so close and it just doesn’t go in, but you can’t really get too frustrated right now because it’s only going to make things worse.” added Ryder in a locker room interview. ” We have to stick with the positive things that we’re doing.  We created chances, that’s one step forward and right now we just have to find ways to bear down and put it in the back of the net.”

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