MONTREAL — The fact that Thomas Vanek has produced big-time against the Bruins in his career isn’t exactly a secret. Frequently referred to as a “Bruins-killer,” the 30-year-old winger has 30 goals and 31 assists for 61 points against the Bruins in 53 career games.
When that type of offense was being put up with the Sabres and Islanders (he had a goal and three assists in three games against Boston in his four-month stint with the Islanders), he was a nuisance for the Bruins. Now that he’s with the Canadiens after a deadline-day shocker, he could be a big problem.
On Tuesday, Vanek participated in his first practice with the Canadiens after playing in two games for them (zero points, minus-1 rating). After it, he downplayed his dominance against the B’s.
“I think numbers are numbers. Sometimes they’re overblown,” he said. “For me, I don’t prepare any different. It’s just another game, really. They’re a good team and you’ve got to be ready.”
While he shrugged off his statistics, Vanek did venture a guess as to why he always seems to have big games against Boston.
“The last four or five years, to me, Boston has been one of the better teams in the league,” he said. “You want to play your best against the best teams, but again, I think sometimes just the numbers are the numbers. I can’t really tell you why that is, but I can tell you that it’s a big game, it’s a great team and you want to play in big games.”
Vanek isn’t the only Canadien who performs well against the Bruins, as Montreal has taken both of the teams’ meetings this season and has won its last five games against Boston dating back to last season.
That doesn’t mean the Habs will take the B’s lightly, as the Bruins are a point out of first place in the Eastern Conference and are 7-0-3 in their last 10 road games.
‘First of all, the Bruins, this is a good hockey team,” Habs coach Michel Therrien said. “They are battling with Pittsburgh right now for first place in the conference and every game is a new challenge. Tomorrow is no different and it’s a huge challenge for us.’
Vanek has played mostly with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta in his two games for Montreal. Therrien really wants Vanek to be a fit with Plekanec, one of the better two-way centers in the league, so he intends to keep him on that line for as long as it takes for the trio to work.
With a pair of games for the Canadiens under his belt, Vanek is still looking for his first goal with the Canadiens. Wednesday night, in his first home game with the team and against the team he’s long dominated, would seem to be a pretty strong candidate.
Whether or not he gets that first goal Wednesday, the addition of Vanek has certainly changed the look of the Eastern Conference and has added more fuel to an already-intense rivalry.