The Montreal Canadiens rode through their first three games of the season with confidence and swagger; the result of their efforts never in doubt. Their effort in game 4 was a study in contrast.
Their post-game comments sound like an autopsy report. The team spoke of showing up, showing energy, and doing the little things; each suggested improvement a tacit acknowledgement of the flaws that doomed them in Tampa Bay.
Of course, if there were no other silver lining to Monday's debilitating defeat, at least it came with a sense of timing. Finally at home, and with two days' rest, the Canadiens are back in the friendliest of confines. If it is energy that the Canadiens are need of, the Habs will play in the NHL's version of the Three Gorges Dam.
Their opponent from Monday is on the ascent, certainly, but their opponent this evening has been formidable for some time. Better than any team, the Montreal Canadiens know that they will need that extra power.
How to watch
Game time: 7:30pm EST
Nationally in Canada in English: Sportsnet 360
In the Habs region in French: RDS
In the USA: NHL Network
In Boston: NESN
Elsewhere: NHL Center Ice or NHL Gamecenter Live
Tale of the Tape
Know Your Enemy
Rumours of the demise of the Boston Bruins have been greatly exaggerated.
Are the Boston Bruins a poorer team less Jarome Iginla and Johnny Boychuk? Yes. Did the Bruins struggle to score in the absence of David Krejci? Certainly. Does their inauspicious start mean that the Bruins are no longer the team to beat in the East? Not so fast.
In score-close situations, the Bruins have only 33.3% of the goals, despite taking 57.6% of the unblocked shot attempts. None of their most talented offensive players, including Bergeron, Marchand, Lucic, and Eriksson, has cracked 3.8% shooting. Not unlike the CH, the Black and Gold's star goaltender has yet to produce a dominant performance.
The Bruins have likely lost some ground since last season, and unfortunately for hockey fans in Massachusetts, Peter Chiarelli's efforts to squeeze Seth Griffith or Simon Gagne into a Tyler Seguin-sized hole will likely prove fruitless.Those rumours you may have heard after Monday night, though? The ones that proposed that the Tampa Bay Lightning were the new kings of the Eastern Conference?
Tonight, there will be two teams on the ice ready to prove them premature.
Last Time Out
The Canadiens recipe for defeating the Bruins in the spring was simple: speed, staunch defence, and a healthy dose of CP31. With the upgrades made to the team during the off-season, the Habs are now even better equipped to employ the same strategy.
The best rivalry in hockey is at its pinnacle when both teams have something to prove. With the stakes high again tonight, the Canadiens will hope in turns out just like last time out.