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Goaltender Tuukka Rask gets start for Bruins vs. Canadiens

02.12.17 at 4:59 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask gets the start for the Bruins tonight vs. the Canadiens. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Tuukka Rask gets the start for the Bruins tonight vs. the Canadiens. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Over a foot of snow is coming to Boston. So are the Canadiens.

And at this point, I’m not sure which visit the Hub dreads more.

In what’s become a one-sided rivalry if there ever was one, at least when it comes to games played in Massachusetts, the Canadiens come to TD Garden tonight riding a nine-game road winning streak over the Bruins. The last B’s home win over the hated Habs, which came all the way back on Jan. 12, 2012 in case you don’t remember, was the night that the Canadiens traded their best scorer (Michael Cammalleri) in the middle of the game, too. So, at least that was nice of them.

But with the ‘fresh start’ that’s come with the hiring of interim head coach Bruce Cassidy for a lot of players in this roster, the Bruins will turn to Tuukka Rask in search of another one of those, and the necessary strong finale before the club’s long-awaited bye week begins on Monday.

One that doesn’t happen without that aforementioned fresh start against the club’s top rival.

Rask’s career figures against the Habs, even after a 30-of-31 performance in an overtime win over the club in last head-to-head, are damn near haunting. In 25 games against the Canadiens, the 29-year-old Rask has just six wins and a .912 save percentage. The numbers are even worse on Rask’s home ice, as he comes into action with an 0-9-3 record and .890 save percentage, and 3.25 goals against average in 12 games. His last home start against the Canadiens was actually the 2016 Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium, too, where he allowed five goals on 30 shots in what was one of the uglier no-shows from last year’s Bruins team.

Naturally, this has led to some straight-up incredible numbers against the Bruins for Rask’s opponent tonight, Carey Price.

Price, widely regarded as the best goaltender in the world (even with some noteworthy struggles this season), has recorded 24 wins and a .924 save percentage in 37 career games against the Black and Gold. Price has also recorded 11 wins and a .915 save percentage in 18 career games in Boston, including a 19-of-21 performance in his only prior road start against the Bruins this season, while the Canadiens as a team have not lost in Boston since Michel Therrien took over as the team’s head coach in 2013.

The great equalizer for both teams, however, are the recent struggles of both Rask and Price.

The 29-year-old Price has looked rough in his last two games (and against bad teams, too), with eight goals allowed on 51 shots faced between a loss to the Avalanche and an overtime win over the Coyotes. That ugly-looking win over the ‘Yotes put an end to a three-game skid for No. 31, as well, and he has just six wins and an .899 save percentage in 15 games in the calendar year.

It hasn’t much better for Rask, either, as a fatigued Rask has allowed three goals or more in 11 of his last 15 starts.

But with Rask resting on the bench for Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Canucks, Cassidy is hoping that he’ll get something closer to the solid No. 40 that was in the crease for stops on all but three of 26 shots against in Thursday’s 6-3 win over the Sharks.

A win tonight would give the Bruins a split in their season series against the Canadiens, and it would be their first non-losing season series wrap against the Habs since the 2011-12 season where they bested the ‘CH’ in four of six meetings.

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