The Canadiens entered their Thursday matchup with the St. Louis Blues followed by a fair amount of apprehension. The Blues are one of the NHL's deepest teams. They are physical, talented, and as much as any other squad, have their eyes on the prize. An excellent team that meets (and usually beats) the Habs only twice a year, they came in with a certain mystique.
Two and a half hours later, the Canadiens had dispelled any illusions about their Missouri opponents. The Habs dominated, from start to finish, mitigating any potential breakdowns and keeping the puck near Jake Allen. When it was all said and done, the Habs allowed only one goal, contributed to by Vladimir Tarasenko with equal parts talent and luck. Meanwhile, the Habs put four even strength goals past the Blues' young keeper, earning themselves a convincing win over a formidable enemy.
Tonight, the Habs will look to repeat their strong display, and will welcome a new face in the process. Bryan Allen, acquired from the Ducks earlier this week, will take his place in the Canadiens lineup, likely in the place of Nathan Beaulieu. Allen replacing the promising, skilled young defender is indefensible, but given Allen's veteran status, convention dictates that the 6'5" stay-at-home blueliner will get his chance.
Bryan Allen could never play a game for Montreal, and Marc Bergevin would still have won the Rene Bourque trade on the basis of improving his financials. Against the Boston Bruins this evening, we'll find out if the trade is anything more than that.
How to Watch
Start time: 7:00 PM
In Quebec: TVA
In Canada: Sportsnet
In New England: NESN
In the U.S.: NHLN-US
Elsewhere: NHL GameCenter, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|49.4||Fenwick Close %||52.8|
|1.23||5v5 Goal Ratio||1.03|
Know Your Enemy
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This is the third game of the year against the Bruins for Montreal, and for the third time, the Bruins will play for the second consecutive night. Boston opened their back-to-back with a shootout victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, a game in which they had no luck until Dennis Seidenberg wound up from the red line and beat Sergei Bobrovsky. Then, the come-back was on, and the Bruins eventually took two points in the skills competition for their third win in and a row.
The Canadiens and Bruins have split the possession battle so far, with each team staking out their territory in one of the two teams' game so far. More importantly, however, Montreal has taken both games in the standings, dealing 6-4 and 5-1 losses to their hated rivals.
When these two teams last met, the Canadiens were able to take advantage of injuries to two critical Bruins: Zdeno Chara and David Krejci. The Bruins will have their #2 centre in the lineup, immediately making their offence more dangerous. Meanwhile, their defence remains injury-riddled, and their best defenceman will remains absent.
It seems clear that, despite their usually suffocating defence, the Habs have the number of Bruins' starter Tuukka Rask. With Chara out for a second consecutive game, the Canadiens have a chance to prove that doubly true.
Last Time Out
Last time out, the Habs jumped all over the depleted Bruins, and besides an early powerplay goal by Dougie Hamilton, cruised to a 5-1 victory.
Boston held their own as best they could, but the Habs exploited Claude Julien's strategy of sheltering Rask. Instead, the Canadiens took advantage of Niklas Svedberg, putting the game out of reach.
A game is going to come, and likely in January, where the Habs will not be the beneficiaries of so many positive circumstances. The rare opportunity exists this evening to take a third consecutive from an important Eastern power broker. The Habs would be wise to take advantage.