Back on January 30, the Bruins hosted a slumping Montreal Canadiens squad who were looking for just their second win in five games. The Habs came into Boston and had their way with the Bruins, beating their longtime rivals 4-1. Despite cutting the lead to one late in the first period, the Bruins really never had a chance in this contest.
With the two teams set to square off Wednesday night in Montreal, the Bruins once again are taking on a desperate Canadiens team.
The Habs are returning home after a trip out west that saw them lose three of four including their most recent game, a 4-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks. Starting goalie and Team Canada Olympic hero Carey Price hasn’t played in a game for Montreal since returning from the break and won’t be in net against the Bruins.
The nearly three-week Olympic break has really seemed to hurt Michael Terrien’s club. Montreal entered the break on a three-game win streak, but has just three wins in the seven games since the National Hockey League resumed play.
To make things worse for Montreal, defenseman Josh Gorges had surgery on his left hand to repair a fracture and is out for approximately four months. Among Canadiens’ blue-liners, Gorges ranks third on the team in average time on ice per game at 21:13.
The Habs, who not to long ago sat comfortably in the top three of Atlantic Division now are on the verge of falling out of the top three and into a wild card spot.
Thanks to their 3-1 win in Anaheim Monday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs (78 points) have leapfrogged the Canadiens (77 points) and now sit second in the division. With a healthy Steven Stamkos, the Tampa Bay Lightning are also putting pressure on the Habs as they sit just two points back of the Canadiens.
With just 16 games remaining in the Canadiens regular season, the Habs know they need to start winning and start winning now. A matchup against the Bruins could be just what the Habs need to get back on track. The Bruins have lost both matchups with the Canadiens this season, being outscored 6-2.
Dating back to last season, the Habs have won five straight against the Bruins.
“It is important, I guess, to finally get a win against this team,” Bruins forward Gregory Campbell stated.
“But in order to do that, we have to play well, and sometimes we haven’t given our best efforts against this team. That’s a credit to them. They play well against us. But we could probably play a little better.”
The Bruins enter Wednesday’s much anticipated tilt with a season high five-game win streak. The win streak has brought the Bruins within three points of the Eastern Conference leading Pittsburgh Penguins.
Despite the two teams heading in different directions, once again, Wednesday’s game in Montreal will be a big test for the Bruins.
“It’s a good test,” said Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask who is expected to be in net Wednesday night. “We really need to play against them. It would be nice to win it.”
The Canadiens always seem to give the Bruins a hard time. Whether it be due to their speed, their game plan, or any other crazy factor. The Bruins know they need to be better than they were the previous two times they have met the Canadiens.
Montreal made a splash last week at the trade deadline as they acquired notorious Bruins-killer Thomas Vanek. In 53 career regular season games against the Black and Gold, Vanek has 30 goals and 31 assists. Numbers like that against the Bruins will instantly make Vanek an early fan favorite in Montreal.
Vanek can’t exactly identify why the Bruins seem to bring out the best in him, but you certainly won’t find Vanek, or any member of the Canadiens complaining about Vanek’s success.
“I don’t know. The last four or five years, to me, Boston has been one of the better teams in the league,” said Vanek. “You want to play your best against the best teams, but I think sometimes just the numbers are the numbers, I can’t really tell you why that is, but I can tell you that it’s a big game, it’s a great team and you want to play in big games.”
The biggest problem the Bruins have faced with the Habs in recent memory has been the speed of Montreal’s pesky forwards. Guys like Captain Brian Gionta, Brandon Gallagher and Max Pacioretty have given the Bruins some trouble.
Defensively, the Bruins know they need to tighten up their defense and limit their mistakes against a Canadiens team that almost always makes you pay for your mistakes.
Dougie Hamilton will once again be a healthy scratch for the Bruins as Andrej Meszaros will be in the lineup for the second straight game. Meszaros was paired with Zdeno Chara during Wednesday’s morning skate.
Despite participating in Wednesday’s skate, Daniel Paille will miss the contest with a “minor concussion.” Paille sustained the injury in Sunday’s win over the Lightning.
Hear what the Bruins had to say following their 4-1 loss to the Canadiens on January 30.