For the first time in six meetings, Thursday’s contest between the Bruins and Canadiens won’t be for first place in the Atlantic Division.
The Canadiens now find themselves 10 points behind the Atlantic leading Bruins thanks to losses in four of their last five combined with the B’s four-game winning streak. As the two teams are set to faceoff in Boston for the first time in the 2013-14 season, the game will feature one team who is surging in January, and another who can’t wait to see January end.
I think it’s easy to figure out which team is which.
The Canadiens have had tremendous issues keeping the puck out of their own net of late. Prior to Tuesday’s 3-0 shutout of the Carolina Hurricanes, the Habs had allowed four or more goals in four consecutive contests. All four of those games were losses for the Habs. Tuesday’s win improved the Canadiens January record to 5-6-1.
Since their three game road trip in California that saw the Bruins pick up just two points, the Black and Gold have been red hot. Just look at their three most recent games that saw the B’s score six times in each contest.
For the Bruins, things couldn’t be going any better. They’re scoring goals like crazy, their goaltending has been stellar and their special teams have been getting the job done. The B’s have been getting scoring from all four of their lines as their full core of forwards are all back (knock on wood, Hub of Hockey) and finally healthy. The line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith has been the hottest trio in the league in the past two weeks. The trio has combined for 26 points in their last six games.
Once again the Bruins are looking like a team who will be a serious threat once the playoffs roll around.
Clearly, the same can’t be said north of the border in Montreal. As a result of their recent struggles and some questionable in game moves, Habs fans have been calling for the firing of head coach Michel Therrien. Between the calls for their coach, multiple trade rumors, and a rough stretch of play, things are pretty bad for the Canadiens at the moment.
After their dismal 5-0 loss to the Washington Capitals last week, the Canadiens’ players held a closed door meeting. After the meeting concluded, each member of the Canadiens roster was sitting at their stalls, awaiting the burning questions from the media.
“We know we play in a very passionate market, and that’s something we’ve emphasized with our players,” Therrien said prior to Tuesday’s win.
“What I keep reminding our players is to stay humble and concentrated when we are having success; you are never as good as people say when things are going well. On the flip side, you are never as bad as you think when things are not going well. You need to stay in that same pattern and to keeping doing the right things regardless of what’s happening”
Despite their recent struggles, the Canadiens do currently hold onto the top spot in the Eastern Conference Wild Card race.
A trip to Boston could be exactly what the doctor ordered for the Canadiens. The Bruins have dropped three of their last four at home against the Canadiens.
"It was good to get the win against the Hurricanes. We wanted a win before heading out to Boston.” said Canadiens forward David Desharnais after Wednesday’s practice in Montreal. “We’re feeling a little bit more confident now to play a solid game. We always tend to play well at TD Garden, there’s a good rivalry between us. Earning that win before flying out was perfect.”
The Habs only sit one point back of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the third and final Atlantic Division playoff spot. With back-to-back games against the top-two teams in the division — the Bruins and Lightning — the Canadiens know they have to put their struggles in the rear view mirror.
“Every game is a big challenge and against the Bruins it will be a huge challenge,” said defenseman Andrei Markov. “We have to be better. There’s lots of room to improve. It’s going to be a tough game (against the Bruins), but it’s going to be interesting.”
Including playoffs, 14 of the previous 16 matchups between the Bruins and Habs have been decided by one goal, the other two, two goals, with an empty net goal coming at the end of each.
With the Bruins looking to continue their dominant play, and the Habs desperate for wins, Thursday’s tilt promises to be a good one.
Relive what Tuukka Rask, Milan Lucic, Zdeno Chara and Gregory Campbell had to say after the Bruins' 2-1 loss to the Habs in their first meeting of the 2013-14 season.
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