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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.

The Bruins will try to limit the celebrations Brian Gionta, P.K. Subban and the Canadiens Thursday. (AP)

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.

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Bruins/Canadiens Preview, 11/11 11.11.10 at 11:33 am ET
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The Bruins likely have a ton of positive energy following a five-goal third period that propelled them to a 7-4 come-from-behind victory over the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night. They return home to face the Canadiens for the first time this season on Thursday.

UPDATE [6:04 p.m.]: It appears that Claude Julien said during his session with French-speaking reporters that Tuukka Rask will be in net for the B’s.

Here’s everything you need to know going in.

WHERE IT’S AT

Carey Price has been solid for the Canadiens this season (AP photo)

- The Bruins are a modest 2-2-1 as the home team this season (they were the home team in the season-opening 5-2 loss against the Coyotes in Prague).

The Habs are 5-2-0 on the road, with their most recent road loss coming last Tuesday, a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Blue Jackets in Columbus.

NOTABLE NUMBERS

- After scoring in the third period of the Bruins’ victory in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, Nathan Horton now has 149 career goals. He can go for No. 150 against the Habs on Thursday night in front of the home crowd.

- The Bruins have averaged 2.2 goals this season in the third period when entering the period trailing.

- The Canadiens have the worst power play in the league, scoring on just 7.8 percent of their power plays.

- The Bruins have had back-to-back games just twice this season. They are 1-0-1, beating the Coyotes on Oct. 10 in Prague and losing in a shootout to the Blues on Saturday.

- After playing a career-high 17:22 giants the Sabres last Wednesday, Tyler Seguin has played 12:21, 9:49, and 12:32 in three games since. He is averaging 13:06 of ice time each night, and after assisting Mark Recchi’s goal, he has six points on the season (3 G, 3A). Seguin is on pace for a 21-goal, 21-assist campaign.

- While we’re extrapolating stats, seven Bruins are on pace to score at least 20 goals this season: Horton, Milan Lucic, Michael Ryder, Zdeno Chara, Shawn Thornton (!), Jordan Caron, and Seguin. Remember, Marco Sturm was the only Bruin to score 20 last year, as he led the B’s with 22.

STORYLINES GOING IN

- Former Boston College star and current Canadiens captain Brian Gionta has had a rough start to the season, but things are starting to look up. After having just three points through the team’s first 12 games, Gionta has a goal and an assist over the last two games.

- Carey Price has been a rock in net for the Habs, softening the blow of just how good Jaroslav Halak has been (1.79 GAA, .932 save percentage). In 14 starts, Price has gone 8-5-1 with a 2.28 GAA and a .918 save percentage.

Price is coming off a shutout against the Canucks on Tuesday, but has allowed three goals in three of his last five starts, all three of which the Habs lost.

Read More: Carey Price, Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin, Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Strange days indeed for the Montreal Canadiens 02.17.09 at 6:25 pm ET
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Despite the shot in the arm that would normally accompany an NHL deadline deal for puck-moving blueliner Matthieu Schneider, the Montreal Canadiens are continuing to navigate through some choppy waters as they tumble through the Eastern Conference.

Watching wunderkind goalie Carey Price struggle through each and every game has been bad enough, but the epic struggles of Montreal’s power play have been downright incomprehensible after lighting it up on the PP one season ago.  Meanwhile at Habs practice on Tuesday morning, things got even worse for Les Habitants as the other shoe finally dropped on underperforming forward Alex Kovalev. 

According to the Gazette’s Habs Inside Out blog, the enigmatic Canadiens forward is being kept home for the next two games against Washington and Pittsburgh because he hasn’t displayed the proper emotion and passion out on the ice while skating for his floundering Canadiens. Canadiens GM Bob Gainey said that Kovalev hasn’t demanded a trade, so this looks like a strict punitive hockey measure designed to light a fire under a notoriously moody, tremendously talented scorer.

Given Kovalev’s aversion to discipline back to Claude Julien’s days as the Habs coach, it should be interesting hockey theater going forward and could signal serious trouble for Boston’s arch-rivals. 

According to the blog: Montreal General Manager Bob Gainey said he told Kovalev the team has no need of Kovalev’s services the way he’s currently playing. He added that Kovalev was tired and wasn’t playing with any emotion. The GM said Kovalev’s situation would be re-evaluated at the end of the week but wouldn’t commit himself to saying that Kovalev would be back in the lineup for Saturday’s home game against Ottawa.

Read More: Alex Kovalev, Bob Gainey, Boston Bruins, Carey Price Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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