December 19th, 2011 by

Gameday: Bruins and Habs renew rivalry before holidays

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(Photo: Bridget Samuels/Ikeastan Hockey) Milan Lucic hopes to escape suspension and take the ice for the Boston Bruins against the Archrival Montreal Canadiens Monday night at the TD Garden

One team comes in with an uncertain outlook for the rest of the 2011-12 season, while the other looks to continue to cement its supremacy in the National Hockey League.

Monday night, the Montreal Canadiens enter the TD Garden with interim coach Randy Cunneyworth — replacing the recently fired Jacques Martin — coaching his second game with the team, while the Boston Bruins come into Monday in a tie with the Philadelphia Flyers for first place in the Eastern Conference standings after their impressive 6-0 road victory Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

Monday’s matchup will be the fourth meeting between the two teams this season. The Habs won the first two meetings during a home-and-home back in October, while the Bruins won the last meeting up in the Bell Centre on the Monday before Thanksgiving.

More after the jump…

Game Details:

Puck Drop: 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
2011-12 season series: Habs 2-1
Expected goalie matchup: Tim Thomas vs. Carey Price

What to watch for (Bruins)

After shutting out the Habs at the Bell Centre in the last meeting, Tim Thomas should get the nod between the pipes tonight for Boston. The two-time Vezina Trophy winner had 33 saves against the archrivals back in November.

The biggest news of the day, however, regards Bruins forward Milan Lucic, who had his phone hearing with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan on Monday morning. Even though his hit on Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo is borderline suspension worthy Saturday, it would be no surprise if Lucic gets “Shanabanned” for a game or two given his history and the fact that he was not suspended for running over Ryan Miller (an incident that got noticeable attention during the GM meetings back in November).

Jordan Caron and Steven Kampfer were called up from Providence last night on an emergency basis. Shall Lucic get banned for a couple of games then coach Claude Julien will need to shuffle his lines a bit to replace the power forward. Rich Peverley, Tyler Seguin and Chris Kelly would be ideal candidates to go on the top line with David Krejci and Nathan Horton.

Either way, the “conspiracy theorists” will still voice their opinion, and the Bruins will continue to play the role of the WWF/WWE’s Hart Foundation from 1997 as the villans everywhere in the league with the exception of The Hub of Hockey.

What to watch for (Habs)

One game into his tenure, Cunneyworth has already has his hands full.

With the mounting injuries — notably Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez and Andrei Markov — and a lengthy list of underachievers that includes Gomez and Andrei Kostitsyn, the Habs sit in 12th place in the Eastern standings with a record of 13-13-7 but remain two points in back of Toronto and Buffalo — both tied for seventh.

Goaltender Carey Price, who has been the team’s backbone again all year, should get his 30th start of the year. The former fifth overall pick has a 12-10-7 record with a goals against average of 2.30 and a .915 save percentage in 29 games.

Monday’s game also marks the second appearance of ex-Bruins defenseman Tomas Kaberle.

After signing a 3-year deal with the Hurricanes, Kaberle was shipped out of Raleigh by GM Jim Rutherford to Montreal in return for Jaroslav Spacek. While Kaberle’s stats aren’t anything to write home about so far — 14 assists and a minus-12 in 33 games with Montreal and Carolina — the Czech defenseman has been playing surprisingly well with his new club with five assists in his first four contests. Either way, expect some boo birds from the Garden crowd Monday now that he is donning the Red and White.

Gameday links (Bruins)

New England Hockey Journal’s Jesse Connolly has a feature on Rich Peverley’s long journey to the NHL.

Joe Haggerty from Comcast SportsNet says the Bruins will bring their killer instinct against the Habs.

Even with the Habs mediocre season, the Bruins always expect their archrivals to bring their best effort when the two teams take the ice (Joe MacDonald, ESPN Boston)

Gameday links (Habs)

After hearing about the coaching vacancy, former Habs and Colorado Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy says he’ll listen if the Habs come calling with an offer according to The Montreal Gazette

Eric Engles from CTV says the team is still the same even with Cunneyworth taking over.

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