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Bruins at Canadiens preview

12.16.10 at 4:57 pm ET
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The Bruins are in Montreal Thursday to take on the Canadiens for the second time this season. They were handed a 3-1 loss on Nov. 11 at the Garden in a game started by Tuukka Rask, but it appears Thursday will feature a dream matchup between two of the league’s best goalies.

Tim Thomas, who will man the pipes for the Bruins, is first in nearly every statistical category. He’s tops in save percentage (.954), goals against average (1.51) and is tied with Henrik Lundqvist with five shutouts. Carey Price, meanwhile, is tied with Jimmy Howard with 17 wins, the most in the NHL.

WHERE IT’S AT

– The Habs are 11-5-2 at home, most recently dropping a 5-3 decision to the to Flyers at the Bell Centre on Wednesday night.

– After the Bruins’ 3-2 loss to the Sabres in Buffalo on Wednesday, the team is now 9-4-1 on the road. The Bruins are 2-2-1 in their last five road contests.

NOTABLE NUMBERS

Zdeno Chara had the Bruins’ lone goal the last time the B’s played the Habs. He hasn’t scored in the 16 games since, though he came close when he rang a shot off the post Wednesday in Buffalo.

With his four goals, Chara is on pace to pick up 11 this season. He scored seven goals last season after picking up a career-high 19 in 2008-09.

– After a slow start to the season, Habs captain and former Boston College standout Brian Gionta is tied for the team lead with 10 goals this season. He had eight shots on goal and scored one the Canadiens’ three goals in their loss to the Flyers on Wednesday.

– The Bruins lead the NHL is goals against (1.9 per game) while the Canadiens (2.1) are second in the league. If you’re a fan of goaltending duels, this is about as good as it gets.

STORYLINES GOING IN

– The Habs have struggled of late, as they’ve lost three in a row. Only the Islanders’ at six games have a longer current losing streak.

– This is a matchup of the top two teams in the Northeast division, as the Canadiens have 38 points to the Bruins’ 36. With a victory, the B’s can tie the Habs for the division lead despite having played two less games.

Tyler Seguin could be handed his second consecutive healthy scratch and third straight game missed if he spends Thursday night in the press box with Doug Jarvis. It’s worth noting that Steven Stamkos was also a healthy scratch as a rookie and responded pretty well.

Habs defenseman P.K. Subban also missed three games as a healthy scratch this season. Bruins fans might remember him for scoring the first goal of the Nov. 3 game (and his career) by notching a power play tally against Tuukka Rask.

Read More: Brian Gionta, Carey Price, Tim Thomas,

Bruins fall to Sabres

12.15.10 at 9:36 pm ET
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Drew Stafford provided all the offense for Buffalo as the Sabres beat the Bruins, 3-2, on Wednesday.

The Bruins relinquished the lead twice in the game, as they went up in first and third periods, respectively, on goals from David Krejci and Michael Ryder.

Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Brad Marchand, who make up the popular “Merlot line” tied one another for the team lead with four shots apiece on reigning Vezina winner Ryan Miller.

Tuukka Rask made 32 saves on 35 shots and fell to 2-7-1 on the season. The B’s were forced to finish the game shorthanded due to a Milan Lucic unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 18:22, though they applied significant pressure, including a great opportunity from Patrice Bergeron with Miller down. A brawl broke out following the final horn after Miller took a shot at B’s captain Zdeno Chara in front of the net.

The game also marked the first time this season that second overall pick Tyler Seguin was a healthy scratch. Daniel Paille played in the rookie’s place.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– The Bruins weren’t exactly masters at holding a lead in the game, as they allowed game-tying goals to Drew Stafford shortly after scoring their first two goals. There was just 48 seconds of play between Krejci’s goal and Stafford’s first of the night, while Stafford picked up his second 32 seconds following Ryder’s tally.

– Penalties hurt the Bruins, notably Lucic’s in the third period. Likely not thrilled with his boarding penalty in the penalty, Lucic probably said something to a ref in the third, which was why he was sent from the bench to the box.

– Brad Marchand had a goal waved off in the third period due to goaltender interference on Thornton’s part. Marchand sent a bouncing rebound into the net but Miller was caught up with Thornton. Stafford scored the game-winning goal on the ensuing power play.

Thornton also had a pass intercepted in the third that led to Stafford’s goal. Thornton was hot and cold on the night, and despite getting shots on goal and drawing a key penalty, certainly had a couple of low moments.

– The Bruins have generally been able to get up to kick off these stretches of four games in three nights. Wednesday marked the first time they lost the first game in such a stretch. They were 4-0-0 in those games entering Wednesday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– David Krejci has been able to do damage against the Sabres this season. He entered the night with three points against them in two games and now has four points through three against Buffalo.

– The Bruins have faith in Steven Kampfer, and there isn’t much reason for them to not trust the 22-year-old. The latest example came in the first period when, after skating on the power play unit in Tuesday’s practice, he got significant time at the point on the man advantage.

The decision to give Kampfer time (4:19) on the power play paid off when he set up Ryder’s power play goal in the third. It was the rookie’s first career point.

– Shawn Thornton drew a penalty for the sixth time this season, which led to Ryder’s goal. Of course, his penalty in the third led to the Sabres’ game-winning goal, but Thornton, as well as his linemates, were among the most productive Bruins on Wednesday.

Read More: Milan Lucic,

Bruins remain tied with Sabres after two

12.15.10 at 8:37 pm ET
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The Bruins had their chance at regaining the lead, but they enter the third period tied, 1-1, with the Sabres.

Boston had a 5-on-3 when Tyler Myers sent the puck over the glass in his own zone with Jochen Hecht already in the box, but the B’s failed to convert. They are now 0-for-3 on the night.

Zdeno Chara had probably the Bruins’ best chance when his shot rang off Ryan Miller’s post early on in the period. Nathan Horton had a slap shot stopped by the reigning Vezina winner in the period’s final minutes.

Myers appeared to be setting up a Sabres goal when he sent a puck across the net in front of Tuukka Rask to Tyler Ennis. Though Ennis couldn’t handle the pass and allowed Rask time to get in position, Myers did draw a Patrice Bergeron hooking penalty on the play.

The Bruins outshot Buffalo, 12-9 in the period and are being outshot, 27-26, in the game.

Read More: Tyler Myers,

Bruins, Sabres tied after one

12.15.10 at 7:45 pm ET
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David Krejci and Drew Stafford each scored and the Bruins and Sabres are tied after 20 minutes of play.

Krejci got his fifth goal of the season and fourth point against the Sabres when he redirected a Dennis Siedenberg shot past Ryan Miller at 17:59.

With Milan Lucic in the box for boarding, Drew Stafford buried a third-chance opportunity at 18:41 to tie it at a goal apiece.

Andrew Ference took a big hit from Patrick Kaleta, who bounced off the B’s defender in the Bruins’ end. Ference responded by shoving Kaleta following the play and was headed off for roughing.

Less than a minute into the Sabres’ power play, David Krejci was attempting to catch a pass as he entered Buffalo’s end but was, slashed by Drew Stafford at the blueline.

Steven Kampfer saw time at the point on the Bruins’ power play after having just six seconds on the man advantage through two games.

The Sabres are outshooting the Bruins, 18-14.

Read More: David Krejci, Tuukka Rask,

Tyler Seguin scratched vs. Sabres

12.15.10 at 6:53 pm ET
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The Bruins have indeed scratched rookie forward Tyler Seguin vs. the Sabres on Wednesday. It makes for Seguin’s first healthy scratch of his career after missing Saturday’s game with flu-like symptoms.

In Seguin’s place will be Daniel Paille, who was solid on Saturday despite having a minus-1 rating on the night.

Seguin has 10 points — five goals and five assists — this season, though he’s scored just two goals in his last 19 games.

Read More: Tyler Seguin,

Tyler Seguin to sit vs. Sabres?

12.15.10 at 3:49 pm ET
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Claude Julien told reporters Wednesday morning that whether or not Tyler Seguin plays against the Sabres will be a game-time decision. Seguin sat out Saturday night with what the team called flu-like symptoms (he skated with the scratches that morning) and Daniel Paille, despite posting a minus-1 on the night, was solid, single-handedly saving a goal with Tim Thomas out of position following a rebound.

Yet Paille, for the most part, has been dreadful when he has played this season. His performance in the season-opener against the Coyotes made the decision to put Jordan Caron in the lineup a no-brainer. Still, he’s only played since then due to injury, so the opportunities to prove himself this season have been limited (10 games this season).

As for Seguin, people will have two questions should he be a healthy scratch for the first time in his career. No. 1, will it stunt his development, and No. 2, will he pout?

To answer the first one, missing one game (well, two if you count Saturday) won’t make his ceiling any lower, and he likely knows that. It might actually be good for him in the long-run. Seguin’s clearly been explosive through the neutral zone and is a huge asset in shootouts, but sitting might add some motivation for the rest of his game.

The time off can also let Seguin take a step back and reset, so to speak. He hasn’t been slow out there, but he certainly hasn’t been as in sync with Marc Savard as many would have expected, and a game or two off might help him clear his head.

Regarding whether he’ll be an unhappy camper, who knows? What we do know is that he’ll try not to show it. The 18-year-old didn’t answer a single question in training camp or the preseason without attaching “if I make the team” to it. He’s been very careful to not come across as a kid who’s taking things for granted, so one could expect a stock “whatever’s best for the team” answer when he’s asked about all this.

Seguin has four points in his last 15 games and has 10 points (five goals, five assists) on the season. He’s scored just two goals over his last 19 games. The second overall pick in last June’s draft, Seguin is viewed as one of the more talented young goal-scorers in the league and has been compared to the likes of Steven Stamkos. He’s clearly not anywhere near Stamkos’ level, but time will tell whether he becomes the elite right-handed center many project him to be.

Read More: Tyler Seguin,

Mike Milbury on D&H: NHL salary cap ‘un-American’

12.15.10 at 1:01 pm ET
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NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about the Bruins and the NHL. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Milbury said it was tough to see Marco Sturm go, as the Bruins completed the trade with the Kings to clear up cap space. Said Milbury: “I wish there were another way to go, because on this team he would have been a great fit on the third line and allowed a bunch of other guys to try a hand at a top-six forward position. And that’s where I think Sturm fits best. He can play up to the second line. He’s a real good third-line player on a terrific team, and the Bruins are working their way toward that.”

Milbury said he’s not a fan of the hard cap. “I don’t like it. I mean, what is it doing? It’s sort of leveling the playing field for everybody. Is that what we’re trying to do? It’s sort of un-American, isn’t it? You’re supposed to be out there, spend as much as you want, do whatever you want, and you reap the consequences or the benefits. After all is said and done, I miss the Evil Empire in New York and I miss the Detroit Red Wings spending all sorts of money.”

Commenting on Flyers forward Jody Shelley‘s hit on Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid in Saturday’s game, Milbury said: “It was a dumb hit. He’s paying the price for it. I think that was one that every player in the league can go, ‘Geez, you’ve got to be smarter than that.’ ” Milbury added that he supports automatic icing so as to avoid such situations.

Linus Omark made his NHL debut with the Oilers on Friday night, and the youngster turned some heads in the shootout when he did a 360-degree spin upon touching the puck, then faked a slap shot and fired the pick past Lightning goalie Dan Ellis for the winner.

The flashy moves did not bother Milbury. “We go to this shootout after an overtime, and it’s a gimmick,” he said. “It’s not hockey, it’s a test of skill. You know what? Let it rip. Let it fly. Do handsprings or backflips or whatever you think of to A) entertain the fans, and B) maybe distract the goaltender. ‘€¦ He can do whatever he wants. He can go naked at center ice, a la ‘Slap Shot.’ I’d like to see that. That would really sell some tickets.”

Read More: Jody Shelley, Linus Omark, Marco Sturm, Mike Milbury
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