How to watch
Start time: 7:30 PM EST / 4:30 PM PST
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the United States: NBCSN
Streaming: NHL.tv / NHL Live
Under normal circumstances, a 2-1-0 western road trip would be cause for celebration in Montreal. However, the Habs’ only defeat in their most recent sojourn away from the Bell Centre — a 4-1 result against a Dallas Stars team that had played in the thin air of Denver just a night prior — left a sour aftertaste on what was otherwise a convincing success. In a way, though, the dull and listless affair in the Lone Star State serves as a good lesson to a Canadiens team still struggling in the consistency department: there are no easy nights in the modern NHL.
Tale of the Tape
|2-1-0||H2H Record (18-19)||1-2-0|
|52.0% (8th)||Corsi-for pct.||52.9% (3rd)|
|3.67 (4th)||Goals per game||3.29 (10th)|
|3.20 (20th)||Goals against per game||3.14 (19th)|
|20.0% (16th)||PP%||24.1% (6th)|
|68.9% (30th)||PK%||83.7% (12th)|
If the Dallas game has indeed shaken the Canadiens out of their stupor, it’s come not a moment too soon, as their next opponents just happen to be their age-old rivals from Beantown. It’s always a charged affair when the bleu-blanc-rouge face off against the gold-and-black, but there may be something a little bit extra this year.
Despite being Stanley Cup Finalists the previous season, the Bruins have sat by and watched the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning soak up all of the Atlantic Division attention during the off-season. That is a trend that has largely continued after the puck was dropped, but for much different reasons as the Leafs and Bolts have struggled to meet the lofty heights of expectation.
The Bruins, meanwhile, have had no such troubles, and come to Montreal with only a single regulation defeat on the year. Unsurprisingly, the Bruins are led by the best line in hockey, featuring league-wide points leader David Pastrnak (29) and runner-up Brad Marchand (28). The third member, Patrice Bergeron, may have only 15 points to his name, but is a big reason why the Bruins are the stingiest team defensively in the NHL.
The other big reason why the Bruins are the best team in the NHL right now can be found between the pipes. Tuukka Rask, he of the career 11-16-4 record against the Canadiens, currently sports an otherworldly .949 save percentage, naturally leading the league in goals saved above average.
If the Bruins do have a weakness, it lies in their lack of secondary scoring. Beyond the big line and defence leader Torey Krug, the fifth-leading point-getter for the Bruins is Danton Heinen, with a mere six. Another thing to note is that the off-season has not dulled a Bruins power play that was absolutely lethal in last year’s playoffs. Of Pastrnak’s 29 points, 12 have come on with the man advantage. For Marchand, it’s nine of 28, and for Bergeron, six of 15. As for Krug, the blue-liner only has two even-strength points to his name.
When Montreal plays Boston, things like form and momentum have less impact than usual. On Tuesday night, even though the matchup is a mere regular season game in November, both teams will be fueled by the weight of nine decades of battle, of triumphs and defeats, brutal physicality and sublime skill, and of course, the ability to tell the difference between five and six.
The task before the Montreal Canadiens is clear. Defeat the Boston Bruins. That is all.