February 7th, 2010 by

Pregame notes: Bruins @ Canadiens | 3:00pm EST

The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens will be facing off for the 703rd time in their lifetime series tonight, 3pm EST, north of the border at the Bell Centre. It is the second-most games played of any two NHL rivals in NHL history. The Black and Gold hold a 262-331-105-4 overall record with Montreal holding a 2,133-1,857 scoring scoring advantage in those games.

These two Original Six rivals will be meeting for the fourth of six total times this season, and the second time in four days. The Bruins are 0-1-2 against the Habs, and have been outscored 10-4 total. The Bruins lost 3-2 in a shootout against the Habs on Thursday night after taking a two-goal lead, as history repeated itself yesterday against the Vancouver Canucks. Boston has now lost its 10th-straight contest and are desperately seeking a two-point victory.

Away Team: Montreal Canadiens (28-25-6, 62 points, 3rd Northeast Division, 6th Eastern Conference, 14-11-4 at home, 5-3-2 last 10 games)

  • ranked 24th in the NHL with 2.52 goals-for per game
  • 11th in the league with 2.66 goals-against
  • 25.0% success rate on the power play ranks the Habs 2nd overall in the NHL
  • 7th on the penalty-kill with a 83.7% success rate while short

The Canadiens are seeking their fourth-consecutive victory today, after beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 yesterday at the Bell Centre. Jaroslav Halak picked up his 17th win yesterday, so we could see Carey Price between the pipes for the Hans. Price is 2-0-0 against the B’s this season.

Tomas Plekanec: 2-4-6, plus-2, 15 shots on goals in his last four.
Brian Gionta: 2-1-3, minus-1, three shots yesterday against Pittsburgh
Scott Gomez: 1-3-4 through a two-game scoring streak

From Habs Inside/Out:
“The Canadiens were missing two more key players thanks to injuries and played with a fourth line made up of three members of the Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon. But they found a way to defeat the defending Stanley Cup champions 5-3 at the Bell Centre, a third straight win for Montreal. With Benoit Pouliot and Marc-André Bergeron placed on the injured reserve list, David Desharnais, Brock Trotter and Ryan White were called up and played on a line together Saturday, arguably the best one on the ice for either team.”

Also, defenseman Paul Mara remained sidelined in yesterday’s contest, and is still day-to-day. Andrei Kostitsyn and Mike Cammalleri remain on the IR.

Home Team: Boston Bruins (23-22-11, 57 points, 4th Northeast Division, 12th Eastern Conference, 10-10-5 away, 0-6-4 last 10 games)

  • 30th in the NHL in goals-for with 2.30 per game
  • 7th in the league with  2.45 goals-against
  • 18.1% success rate on the power play ranks the B’s 15th overall in the NHL – 6-for-25 (24%) in their last four games
  • 2nd on the penalty-kill with an 86.6% rate while short – 18 of their last 23 times short (78.3%)

The Bruins are playing their 13th of 17 sets of consecutive-day games today against Montreal, as the lost to the Canucks at the TD Garden yesterday afternoon, 3-2 SO. They enter
this series with a 5-5-3 record in game ones, and 5-5-2 record in game twos of these sets. Even worse, the Bruins have extended their longest winless streak to 10 games – the longest losing-skid since Feb. 4 – Feb. 24, 1997 [0-8-2 skid] – with their last win coming on Jan. 14 in a 2-1 shootout victory in San Jose.

Boston once again outshot their opponents [43-31 yesterday against VAN] for the eighth-straight game – 289-202 total.

“I think it’s a matter of you taking a two-nothing lead and you had the opportunity, the real good opportunity, to make it a 3-goal lead, and I think that could have made a big difference. But again, I thought we still played well.” head coach Claude Julien after the 3-2 loss to the Canucks. “And the third with, a two-one lead, we made that mistake that turned into a goal and that’s the end of it. The way things are going, I guess at this point, you dread seeing a shootout.”

The Eastern Conference standing  are still up for grabs. While the top five teams have separated themselves with the bottom tier teams – 82-70 points, respectively – just five points separate the sixth-place team in the East with the 12th seed. A two-point victory today could bump the Bruins from 11th place, to tied with eighth-place – let alone snap the winless streak and bring some confidence back to the squad.

“It’s unfortunate that it hasn’t came yet… especially when we’re in a do or die time like right now.  We’re still in the race… that’s the fortunate part.” from Bruins’ center Marc Savard. “You know, three points, or two points, I don’t know what we’re out now, but tomorrow’s a huge game again for us and hopefully it’s three-two us.

The Black-and-Gold have just four games remaining, all on the road, before the Olympic break from now until  Saturday night. All four are against Eastern Conference squads and two of those are against Division rivals. Today, the Bruins must absolutely end this drought against an injured Montreal team – to find some momentum, regain confidence, and finish strong heading into the two-week break. Eight total points are available these next four games – eight very attainable points.

“I think we’re right there.  I think it’s close, but when you’re in these ruts it’s not easy to get out.” Michael Ryder added. “You’ve just got to keep pushing and once we get out of it we’ll be a better team.”

Johnny Boychuk did not make the trip to Montreal after taking a puck to the left side of his head during the first period of yesterday’s contest. A scary moment indeed. Andrew Ference could be plugged-in – but I’d expect Adam McQuiad to get the start instead.

Marc Savard has 0-5-5 in four of his last five games. Two assists yesterday was good for his sixth multiple-point game of the season.
Michael Ryder has 1-1-2 in his last two games
David Krejci has 1-2-3 in three of his last four games
Dennis Wideman has two assists in two of his last three contests

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