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For two teams that have always played each other a lot, it’s been a while since the Montreal Canadiens faced the Boston Bruins. The last meeting was February 12, 2020, quite an early end to the season series that year, but perhaps a merciful one as the Bruins claimed it three games to one, with the combined score being a one-sided 19-8.
The two teams have changed significantly since that meeting nearly two years ago. The Canadiens had Max Domi, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Marco Scandella in the lineup that night, while David Krejci and Tuukka Rask were still in action for the Bruins, as was Zdeno Chara, who has since moved on to the New York Islanders.
Tale of the Tape
|52.0% (10th)||Scoring-chances-for %||52.0% (9th)|
|2.13 (31st)||Goals per game||2.92 (16th)|
|3.31 (28th)||Goals against per game||2.92 (16th)|
|14.6% (27th)||PP%||25.0% (6th)|
|70.4% (29th)||PK%||82.5% (13th)|
|1-3-0||H2H Record (19-20)||3-1-0|
Some things remain the same for both clubs. That previous game featured a hat trick from David Pastrnak, who remains one of the Bruins’ most dangerous offensive weapons, even if he is racking up more assists than goals so far this year. It’s actually Brad Marchand who is running away with the team’s points race, leading in both goals and assists to hold a five-point lead over Patrice Bergeron.
A hot hand on the power play is a major factor for the winger from Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia. Eight of his 18 points have come on a special-teams unit that ranks sixth in the NHL at 25.0%.
Despite that offensive succees for the top players, the Bruins find themselves in fifth place in the Atlantic Division, highlighting how tough that section is this season. As seems to always be the case, they have games in hand on their opponents, but still rank fourth by points percentage. Those games in hand are also going to be made up during a schedule compressed to allow for the Olympics break, and all of their top players will likely be playing in that short international tournament as well.
In the last game of the rivalry, Nick Suzuki had the only goal, and for much of this season the majority of the offence has had to run through the young centreman. Suzuki also has a sizable edge on his next-closest teammate on the scoring list.
There was a period recently when all the goals had to go through him, but the Canadiens have started to spread their limited offence throughout the lineup. Last night it was an unexpected connection between fourth-liners Michael Pezzetta and Ryan Poehling on the first goal, and a great effort from Artturi Lehkonen and finish from Chris Wideman that resulted in the goal that got Montreal a point.
After a disastrous start that may still prove impossible to recover from, the Canadiens have now earned points in three straight contests. If they can build on that by taking a win off the Bruins with a roster missing several key players, there will be some hope that they can get their season back on the rails.