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Canadiens vs Bruins: Game preview, start time, and TV schedule

After dominating the Bruins in the first week of the season, what should the Canadiens expect from their rivals in round two?

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

For the Montreal Canadiens, a lot has changed since game two.

The team has gone from a shaky looking win over Toronto to start the year, to a confident ascent to the top of the league standings. They've found a team identity, lost it, briefly, and found it again. They've even begun to deal with their first dose of true adversity, withstanding an injury to their most important player and continuing to roll.

Remarkably, all of those varied group experiences have come on the shoulders of a very consistent roster configuration. Besides Carey Price's injury, Michel Therrien has made only one significant move: benching Alexander Semin, and doing some moderate tinkering to fill his spot. The team's record hasn't suffered in Semin's absence, but tonight's game should provide some perspective on what Semin's absence means to the Habs.

Alex Galchenyuk, Lars Eller, and Semin were positively dominant when the Habs and Bruins last met, using x-ray vision and lethal finish to slice and dice the Bruins makeshift defence corps. With that line no longer available, and the Bruins best defender back on the ice, tonight's game may look a little different.

How to Watch

Start time: 7:00 PM ET
In Canada (French): TVAS
In Canada (English): Sportsnet
In the Bruins region: NESN
In the United States: NHLN-US
Elsewhere: NHL GameCenter, NHL Center Ice

Tale of the Tape

Canadiens Statistic Bruins
12-2-1 Record 6-5-1
7-2-1 L10 Record 6-3-1
53.2 Score-Adjusted Corsi % 51.4
55 Goals For 43
Goals Against 40
1.83 5v5 Goal Ratio 1.00
25.0 PP% 35.0
89.8 PK% 70.5

Know Your Enemy

After a couple of abhorrent performances to start the year, the Boston Bruins have been on a steady upward trajectory. Ugly losses to the Jets, Canadiens, and Lightning in their first three games have given way to a 6-2-1 record since, and leaves the Bruins in the hunt for a playoff spot.

That loss to the Lightning marked Zdeno Chara's first game of the year, and the Bruins improved performance since his return is no coincidence. Slotting Chara in on the top pair has allowed Torey Krug to move to a more comfortable second pair role, where his partnership with Adam McQuaid has been the most consistent element of Boston's back-end.

The Bruins have made adjustments up front as well, seeking to supplement their top six with some additional offensive flair. For the past two games, that new weapon was Alexander Khokhlachev, and his results were good on paper: the AHL's third-leading scorer maintained almost 70% possession for while riding shotgun for David Krejci.

Tonight, with Khokhlachev headed back to the AHL, the Canadiens will have to contend with a number productive player from Providence. Frankie Vatrano, who leads the AHL with 10 goals in 10 games, has been recalled, and figures to assume that same spot on the second line.

Of course, even if the new addition doesn't gel right away at even strength, the Habs will still have to be conscious of the Bruins' lethal powerplay. Only the Kings and Maple Leafs have generated more shot attempts per sixty minutes of play than the Bruins have with the man advantage, and no team has matched their absurd 35% success rate.

With Boston putting up more than one goal per game on average so far, their powerplay may be just the type of x-factor they need to overcome any possession disadvantage they may face.

Last Time Out

It was the Canadiens who leveraged the powerplay last time out, opening the scoring with some inspired puck movement. The Habs went across the Royal Road twice, with David Desharnais ending up as the beneficiary of two surgical passes by Alex Galchenyuk and Andrei Markov.

From there, the Eller-Galchenyuk-Semin line took over. On the Habs' second goal, Semin showed great patience in waiting for the Bruins' defence to open up before feeding Eller for a one-timed goal.

Later, Semin cut off a Bruin clearing play and fed Galchenyuk, who carried the puck to the slot before setting up Eller for another one-timer. With an empty-net goal, Tomas Plekanec would finish off what would end up a 4-2 victory.

Even with Semin out of the lineup, the Habs have had little trouble maintaining their standing as the league's highest-scoring team for the last five games. Tonight, we'll find out if the Canadiens have enough firepower to hold off a team looking to show they have a lot more to offer than they put on display one month ago.