How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM PDT
In Canada: Sportsnet (English)
In the U.S.: NHL Network
In the Canadiens region: RDS (French)
In the Bruins region: NESN
Streaming: ESPN+, NHL Live, RDS Direct, Sportsnet Now
The Atlantic Division may have some of the weakest teams in the NHL this season — we saw two of them on Saturday night when the Ottawa Senators played the Montreal Canadiens — but an arms race is underway among the four teams at the top.
Montreal got involved in the first stage of this fight by sending Ben Chiarot to the Florida Panthers to bolster their defence. Tampa Bay responded by adding forward Brandon Hagel from the Chicago Blackhawks, then brought in Nick Paul yesterday. In the past two days, the Boston Bruins acquired Hampus Lindholm from the Anaheim Ducks, and the Toronto Maple Leafs madly flung salary in every direction to make the contracts of Mark Giordano and Colin Blackwell, two players taken during expansion by the Seattle Kraken, fit on their roster.
Lindholm has since signed an eight-year contract extension with the Bruins, but is currently listed as a “non-roster” player and is probably going to join the team in Boston for a five-game homestand that begins on Thursday rather than rushing to get to Montreal, so the Canadiens won’t have to deal with the full strength of the Bruins’ new lineup this game.
Tale of the Tape
|46.3% (25th)||Scoring-chances-for %||54.2% (5th)|
|2.52 (32nd)||Goals per game||3.00 (17th)|
|3.77 (32nd)||Goals against per game||2.66 (5th)|
|13.9% (30th)||PP%||24.7% (5th)|
|74.0% (29th)||PK%||81.7% (10th)|
There will be another significant absence for the Bruins as well: Patrice Bergeron has been placed on Injured Reserve and won’t be able to play for at least a few days. The centreman has been putting in another strong season with 45 points in 56 games, 20 of them on the league’s fifth-ranked power play.
Boston was already looking for a second-line centre so without Bergeron, their depth down the middle is far from what you’d expect to see from a team in buy mode hoping to win a Stanley Cup. To their credit, they have been winning plenty of games with the depth they do have while not overextending Bergeron, who has rarely surpassed 20 minutes a game this season. The defensive Tomas Nosek and the offensive Charlie Coyle are playing their minutes effectively, but have now been elevated to higher roles. There aren’t many rentals left at that position, so a trade would need to be for a player with more term.
We don’t know what the Canadiens’ lineup is going to look like because there are several names still being bandied about as potential trade pieces. Artturi Lehkonen, Jeff Petry, Brett Kulak, and Jake Allen have all been mentioned as possibilities, even though Kent Hughes sounds reluctant to part with the majority of them. Based on the prices we’ve seen some of the buyers willing to pay, there could be an offer too great to refuse.
Regardless, we’re not going to see Nick Suzuki changing addresses for a second time in his career. He’s quickly rounding into form and establishing himself as the top-line option for the future. Cole Caufield continues to score goals and make us wonder what could have been for him in a rookie season that just six weeks earlier looked like it should be finished in the AHL.
Alexander Romanov may be one of the leaders of a defence corps that could get a lot thinner in the next few hours. His physicality and shot-blocking are becoming even more prominent as the season goes on, and a game versus the Bruins is a chance to put those talents to great use. And then there’s the rapidly ascending Corey Schueneman who is getting more noticeable with each outing and comes in with points in back-to-back games, having just played the second-most minutes to date of his 12-game NHL career.
There could be some new players joining the team today whom we will see in the final quarter of the year, or a call-up or two from the Laval Rocket to fill the roster. Wins shouldn’t be expected now that the Habs have been shedding NHL players, but it would still be very satisfying to see these players knock off the rival Bruins in an upset victory.