March 3rd, 2013 by

GameDay: Bruins and Habs battle for first in the East

(Credit: Joe Makarski) Tyler Seguin and the Boston Bruins will look to take over first place outright in the Eastern Conference when they host the Montreal Canadiens tonight at the TD Garden.

(Credit: Joe Makarski) Tyler Seguin and the Boston Bruins welcome the Montreal Canadiens with first place in the Eastern Conference on the line.

Not much needs to be said that hasn’t already about the history of the Bruins-Canadiens rivalry. But expect the two teams to write another chapter in this historic rivalry tonight at the TD Garden when they meet with first place in the Eastern Conference – and the Northeast Division – on the line.

Both teams are tied atop the East with 30 points, but the Bruins have three games in hand on their arch-rivals and downed them in the first meeting last month up in Montreal.

The Bruins come in winners of six straight, but have yet to compile a complete, 60-minute effort. However, they have battled some adversity during the early course of the 2013 season and have fought that off nicely. Case in point in yesterday’s 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning where the Black and Gold trailed 2-0 after the first period, but found a way to win thanks in large part to two power play goals (who knew?) by Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand’s game-winner late in the final stanza.

The Habs, meanwhile, are coming off a tough overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in an offensive struggle at the Bell Centre last night. Michael Ryder – donning a Canadiens jersey for the second time in his career – makes his return to Boston to face his former club.

After the jump: lineups, storylines, linkage and tweets of interest

Gametime: 7:30 p.m.
Location: TD Garden
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Network/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins (14-2-2, 30 points), Canadiens (13-4-4, 30 points)

Bruins projected lines

Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Chris Bourque-Chris Kelly-Rich Peverley
Shawn Thornton-Gregory Campbell-Daniel Paille

Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Dougie Hamilton
Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid

Tuukka Rask
Anton Khudobin

Habs projected lines

Max Pacioretty-David Desharnais-Branden Gallegher
Michael Ryder-Alex Galchenyuk-Lars Eller
Brandon Prust-Tomas Plekanec-Brian Gionta
Travis Moen-Ryan White-Colby Armstrong

Andrei Markov-Alexi Emelin
Tomas Kaberle-PK Subban
Josh Gorges-Francis Bouillon

Peter Budaj
Carey Price

Bruins to watch

It’s only a matter of time before Seguin starts getting into a rhythm again. His power play goal in the second period sparked the Bruins’ comeback, but even when he’s not finding the back of the net, the third-year forward is finding other ways to be productive. Seguin leads all Bruins with his plus-13 rating and his nine assists are good for third, so he’s certainly being assertive despite some struggles through the first 18 games. The former second overall pick is known to be a streaky goal scorer through his first two seasons, and the Bruins would greatly benefit if he lights the lamp often in their busiest month of the season.

After sitting out yesterday’s contest as a healthy scratch, expect Shawn Thornton, who was one of several Bruins on the ice for the optional morning skate today, to be reinserted into the lineup by Claude Julien this evening. His presence on the Merlot Line should be put to good use in this important divisional matchup.

Habs to watch

Of course many Bruins and Habs fans have had this day marked on their calendars – as well as the three other meetings – for a long time. But with Ryder’s return, there’s a little extra incentive to tonight’s matchup. The former Bruin has not tallied a point in his first two games since being traded from Dallas (where he recorded 14 points in 19 games). But as both fanbases well know, he is an enigma and can break out at any moment.

And then there’s Max Pacioretty, who’s red-hot over the last two games tallying three goals and one assist in that span. Pacioretty has come a long way since Zdeno Chara took him out nearly two years ago and leads the team with 18 points (7 goals, 11 assists). Expect Chara and Johnny Boychuk to key on Pacioretty, and fellow linemates David Desharnais and Brednan Gallagher, throughout the night.

Bruins linkage

CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty on Brad Marchand transforming his game from a pest to the team’s leading goal scorer.

Days of Y’Orr recaps yesterday’s “Free Penalty Day” at the TD Garden with lots of photoshop material.

Another reminder that SupahFans waives their $5 shipping fee whenever you use DailySupahFans as a coupon code.

Habs linkage

Eyes on the Prize warms Habs fans up asking if the Bruins are unstoppable.

Brenda Branswell of The Montral Gazette goes in-depth on Ryder’s busy week upon returning to Montreal.

Tweets of interest

WEEI’s DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) approves of the Bruins’ locker room music selection

And Julien praises his former team (via @NHLBruins)

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