Habs and Bruins Set to Duke it Out One Last Time
The Montreal Canadiens (34-29-6) and Boston Bruins (30-24-12) will meet for the final time in the regular season Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
Montreal has won four of the first five meetings, two in shootouts, with there most recent coming on a 4-1 win in Boston on March 2.
Both teams are in the thick of a multi-team race for the bottom playoff seeds in the Eastern Conference, where 10 points separates sixth from thirteenth. The Canadiens are currently holding on to seventh place, with Boston just two points back in eighth, with three games at hand.
Game time is 7 p.m.
The Canadiens are riding a four-game winning streak, despite playing a relatively weak game Thursday night, edging out the lowly Edmonton Oilers in a 5-4 shootout. Their number two ranked power play went 0 for 7 on the night.
"We're getting a lot of opportunities," said Montreal's Glen Metropolit. "We missed a few chances, but I don't think we're struggling on the power play."
Canadiens coach Jacques Martin had a slightly different take on his teams problems with the man advantage. "I think we gotta make more of an effort at getting pucks at the net, " he said. "Even if you don't get that first shot, rebounds can give more opportunities.We have to be more committed to getting the puck at the net"
The Canadiens offense has started to pick up, led by Scott Gomez ( 8 points in his last 5 GP) , Benoit Pouliot (5pts in 4 GP), Brian Gionta (6pts in 5GP) and Andrei Markov (7pts in 5 GP).
Markov sat out the Canadiens practice on Friday to take a therapy day.
"Everyone's tight down there," said Pouliot on the tight playoff race. "They (Boston) are right the with us, and they are going to come out strong Saturday night."
Expect Carey Price to be between the pipes for the Canadiens on Saturday night. The 22-year old is 3-0, with a 0.97 GAA and .971 SvPct against the Bruins this season.
Mike Cammalleri and Marc-Andre Bergeron remain on the Montreal injured list.
Forward Maxim Lapierre returns from his four-game suspension stemming from a late hit last Thursday against the Sharks, which allows the Canadiens to return Ben Maxwell to the Hamilton Bulldogs.
The Bruins took out their frustrations, after learning that the Penguins Matt Cooke was not suspended for his hit on their team's leading scorer Marc Savard, on the sixth place Flyers with a 5-1 win on Thursday night.
Savard was diagnosed with a grade two concussion Thursday, and is likely out for the season according to Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli.
Chiarelli had a closed-door meeting with his team on Thursday afternoon to discuss the situation with his team.
"It's behind closed doors, so that's between us and him," said Bruins winger Blake Wheeler. "What I can say is that everyone was inspired. He touched on the things that everybody has to take care of. Hearing it from him, it definitely lights a fire."
"It's over and done with, and the league dropped the ball. It's pretty sad," said disgruntled Bruins veteran Mark Recchi on the Savard/Cooke incident on Friday. "He (Cooke) is a repeat offender. "I think it would be very different if Sidney Crosby got hit like that."
The former Canadien sits just one goal behind Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur in career totals with 559.
Recchi (42), along with linemates Patrice Bergeron and Marco Sturm, have picked up the slack in Savard's absence, combining for six points in Thursday's win and 13 points in the last two games.
"It's been a pleasant surprise," Bruins coach Claude Julien said on the veteran's reliable performance. "He's playing on a line that is playing really well in the last few games. He's done a great job of leading by example on and off the ice and it's paid off for us."
Miroslav Satan (groin) did skate on Friday and could be a game-time decision for Boston. Defenceman Andrew Ference is also out with a groin injury and listed as day-to-day.
Tuukka Rask (5-1-0, 2.11 GAA, .938 SvPct in his last six games) should get the start for Boston. Rask recorded a shutout in the Bruins lone win over Montreal this season.
March 13, 1955: This game would be one of the most infamous in the storied history of the two rivals. It was in this game that Canadiens legend Maurice Richard struck linesman Cliff Thompson. Richard would be suspended for the rest of the season and playoffs, ultimately leading to chaos at the Montreal Forum and in the streets. Ya! The Habs Rule! takes a closer look at that game.