For the third time in eight days, the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens will do battle. This time, the hype takes a back seat.
After all the storylines surrounding the Bruins’ first two matchups against ex-coach Claude Julien, the Boston-Montreal rivalry can go back to usual business. Lately, that usual business is resulting in the Black and Gold taking complete control of the rivalry.
The Bruins enter their Saturday night matchup in Montreal having won the last four against Les Habitants. It’s clear that after the first two meetings — and their seasons to date — that the two teams are trending in opposite directions.
Even with a bounce-back win in Washington Friday night, Julien’s squad sits nine points behind the Rangers and Penguins in the wild card race and a whopping 16 points behind the Black and Gold, who look to extend their point streak to 16 straight games tying a franchise-best set during their Presidents Trophy-winning season in 2014.
Gametime: 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 26-10-8 (60 points), Canadiens 19-21-6 (44 points)
Location: Bell Centre
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci-Ryan Spooner
Danton Heinen-Riley Nash-David Backes
Tim Schaller-Sean Kuraly-Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara-Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug-Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk-Adam McQuaid
Canadiens projected lines
Max Pacioretty-Paul Byron-Charles Hudon
Artturi Lehkonen-Tomas Plekanec-Brendan Gallagher
Alex Galchenyuk-Jonathan Drouin-Nicolas Deslauriers
Jacob de la Rose-Byron Froese-Logan Shaw
Karl Alzner-Jeff Petry
Jordie Benn-Jakub Jerabek
Victor Mete-David Schlemko
– Say what you want about Ryan Spooner quietly becoming a reliable goal-scorer, but his play as of late has been anything but quiet. The 2010 second round pick carries a career-long three-game goal streak into Montreal and he has notched four goals in his last five contests. Spooner’s move to wing to make room for David Krejci on the second line is paying off and is allowing him to showcase his speed and skill. He’s been solid on the power play in year’s past but Spooner’s game is getting more well-rounded and gives Bruce Cassidy another reliable secondary scorer.
– Kevan Miller traveled to Montreal but will miss his third straight game due to illness. A now healthy Adam McQuaid has filled in nicely in the last couple of games. The veteran was active in his return Wednesday night against the Habs. Whether it was pinching to keep the play in the attacking end or giving the Bruins a big momentum boost with Zdeno Chara on the 5-on-3 second-period penalty kill, McQuaid answered the bell in important spots. Sure, Cassidy may have an important decision once Miller returns, but having seven reliable defensemen is a pretty good problem to have especially given McQuaid’s effort in his two games since returning to the lineup.