January 12, 2012. That is the last time the Boston Bruins defeated the hated Montreal Canadiens during a regular season matchup at TD Garden.
In that five-year span, the Bruins have lost eight straight on Causeway Street against their historic rivals (not including the 2016 Winter Classic). Tuukka Rask, who gets the start this evening after Anton Khudobin earned his second win of the season yesterday afternoon against the Canucks, has started in seven of those eight matchups and will look to break the skid this evening against a Habs team fresh off a 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues at the Bell Centre less than 24 hours ago.
Carey Price and company have taken two of the first three meetings, but Rask got the better of the Canadiens in their last matchup back on December 12th – a 2-1 overtime decision in Montreal – in one of his better performances of the season.
The scene is set for the Black and Gold in hopes of starting 3-0-0 in the Bruce Cassidy era. The Canadiens come into snowy Boston 3-5-2 in their last 10. A win against Les Habitants will at least give the Black and Gold a little more breathing room in the playoff chase before they get a much-needed week-long rest.
Gametime: 7:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: NBCSN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 28-23-6 (62 points), Canadiens 31-18-8 (70 points)
Location: TD Garden
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Backes
Peter Cehlarik-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Frank Vatrano-Ryan Spooner-Jimmy Hayes
Tim Schaller-Dominic Moore-Riley Nash
Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Kevan Miller-Colin Miller
Canadiens projected lines
Max Pacioretty-Phillip Danult-Alex Radulov
Artturi Lehkonen-Alex Galchenyuk-Paul Byron
Sven Andrighetto-Tomas Plekanec-Andrew Shaw
Daniel Carr-Michael McCarron-Torrey Mitchell
Alexei Emelin-Shea Weber
Andrei Markov-Jeff Petry
Nathan Beaulieu-Greg Patryn
– The system that Cassidy inherited from Claude Julien may not be much different, but there have been a couple of noticeable differences so far in how the two implement the gameplan. The first difference over the last two games is the defensemen taking bigger chances in the offensive end to help with puck possession. The second difference is the forwards finding better areas to establish more quality scoring chances. Instead of settling for one and done’s the Bruins are getting better opportunities for second and third scoring chances and have kept their foot on the pedal in the attacking end – all resulting in 10 goals in the last two games. Against Price and the struggling Habs, the B’s hope to keep the pressure on Price and company.
– Looking for an improvement from the third line, Cassidy’s move of putting Frank Vatrano, Jimmy Hayes and Ryan Spooner is paying early dividends. The trio has given opponents something to ponder about over the last two games as the top two lines continue to light the lamp. From Hayes driving to the net to Spooner finding a rhythm at center and Vatrano’s quick shot, the third line is doing more good than harm in the first two games under Cassidy.