Canadiens at Bruins - Game Preview

Alex Trautwig

Less than 24 hours after a hard-fought loss to the Penguins, can Montreal summon the will to compete with the Eastern Conference's other top team?

The Canadiens last few games have followed a similar pattern. As they've managed for the majority of the season, the Canadiens have carried the lion's share of the play, regardless of the caliber of their opponent. Contrary to the majority of the season, the Canadiens have not found a way to translate out-possessing their opponents into outscoring their opponents. It was inevitable, but regression is a cruel mistress.

The Canadiens will take their hard-luck outfit into Boston, and will have to muster the energy to rise to the occasion against their biggest rivals. If the Canadiens last Pittsburgh-Boston back-to-back is any indication, this won't be a problem. The Canadiens turned in a passionate performance the last time they met the Bruins, taking advantage of Boston penalties and insulating Peter Budaj to earn a 3-2 road victory. The Canadiens have certainly proven that they're capable of hanging with, and even outperforming, the NHL's tough, deep teams. A solid effort against the Bruins, and especially a victory, would be further evidence that the Canadiens are elite.

Canadiens center Jeff Halpern is one of three members of the team that did not face the Bruins in their most recent matchup. Halpern turned in an excellent performance in his return to the Canadiens organization, posting great possession numbers and going over 60% on faceoffs. The Canadiens will also continue to dress Jarred Tinordi (in place of Tomas Kaberle, who last time saw almost fourteen minutes against the Bruins), and Gabriel Dumont, who will seek to use his abrasive style to replace the energy provided by the still-injured Brandon Prust. In addition to Prust, Canadiens injuries remain the same: Bourque, Diaz, White, and Weber will all be unavailable, as has more or less been the case for some time now.

The Bruins will ice the majority of their regular lineup, missing only Chris Kelly and Adam McQuaid. One potential mystery is the identity of the man who will tend the Bruins' goal, as starts have recently been split between incumbent Tuukka Rask and back-up Anton Khudobin. Khudobin was in net for the Bruins 3-2 loss to the Leafs over the weekend, while Rask earned the SO victory in the rematch on Monday. In all likelihood, Tuukka will be the man on Wednesday, and that probably works for the Habs. Rask has a resumé of 10 starts against the Canadiens in his career, winning only two of them while posting a .905 save percentage.

Coming off seven Pittsburgh goals, Michel Therrien decided to sit Price when the Canadiens last traveled to the TD Garden . His decision was ultimately rewarded with a victory, as Peter Budaj earned the victory, though Therrien has not made the same call for tonight. Price was stellar against the Penguins, and wringing two wins against one of the league's top teams in the same season with one's back-up goalie is probably too much to hope for. In the same vein, Price has generally been solid against the Bruins, posting fifteen career victories with a .918 save percentage. Price has never earned a shutout against Boston in 22 career starts, and with the Canadiens looking for the luck that has evaded them recently, tonight would be an excellent time for the first.

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