MONTREAL — There's no mystery with the lineup the Bruins will roll out for Game 6 at the Bell Centre on Tuesday.
With the exception of Game 2, when Shane Hnidy filled in for Zdeno Chara after the captain was sidelined by dehydration, the Bruins have stuck with the same lineup throughout this series against Montreal. And with everyone healthy and having won three straight to push the Habs to the brink of elimination, there's no reason to change things up now.
Montreal, on the other hand, has several question marks in its projected lineup, and that's without the possibility of Canadiens coach Jacques Martin looking to shake things up after seeing a 2-0 series lead evaporate into a 3-2 deficit.
Montreal will likely be without David Desharnais, who suffered an undisclosed injury during Saturday's double-overtime epic and did not practice on Monday. Desharnais has just one assist in the first five games, but would be a major loss for the Habs. He has been a constant threat and the 5-foot-7, 177-pound center even drew comparisons to one of the game's elite little men from Bruins coach Claude Julien.
"I think he's had a good series and he's played well for them," Julien said. "And when you talk about [smaller guys] around the league, Martin St. Louis is such a good player and he's got good speed and good talent, I think Desharnais, he definitely doesn't have the pedigree and doesn't have the experience, but he certainly has the making of a guy like that and he's come in here and done a good job for them."
Defenseman James Wisniewski was also banged up during that game and had Monday off. The status for both Desharnais and Wisniewski for Game 6 remains uncertain.
"There's no update, those are going to be game-time decisions on both of them," Martin said after the Canadiens' morning skate on Tuesday. "This time of year a lot of times it's health that comes into consideration, so we'll just have to wait and see."
Versatile Yannick Weber will almost surely find his way back into the lineup for one of those players. He scored a goal in his lone appearance in the series in Game 2. A defenseman by trade, Weber played forward that game with Andrei Kostitsyn sidelined. Weber could fill in up front for Desharnais or on the blue line if Wisniewski cannot go. If both players are out, forward Benoit Pouliot could return to the lineup after sitting out the last two games with Weber playing defense, or former Bruin Paul Mara could play his first game of the series on the blue line with Weber staying at forward.
The Bruins won't make any changes, but they do hope to see some continued improvement from the top line of David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic. Horton scored the game-winner on Saturday with Lucic picking up one of the assists. It was the first time all three were on the ice together for a Bruins goal in this series.
"I think that we've handled that line," Martin said. "We've done a good job."
Krejci and Horton each scored in Game 3, but both of those goals came with Patrice Bergeron on the ice shortly after penalties had expired. And none of those goals came with Montreal's shutdown pairing of Hal Gill and P.K. Subban on the ice opposite the Bruins' top line. Julien was able to get that line away from Gill and Subban at times in Boston, but the Habs will have the last change at home in Game 6 and Krejci and Co. are sure to see a steady diet of Gill and Subban.
Still, Julien is confident that unit will build off Saturday's performance and come through when it matters most on Tuesday.
"The encouraging part is I still l think that line has even more to give, and that is encouraging," Julien said. "I thought they played a decent game last game and they were much better than they had been early in the series. And Milan as much as Horton, who scores the OT winner, and Krejci are very good players for us. And I thought Milan himself was a player who took a little bit more space on the ice than he had in the first part of the series, and he was able to get some quality shots and I think his confidence right now is much better than it was two games ago. So hopefully he is progressing."
Projected Bruins lines
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi
Chris Kelly-Rich Peverley-Michael Ryder
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference-Johnny Boychuk
Tomas Kaberle-Adam McQuaid
Scratches: Tyler Seguin, Shane Hnidy, Matt Bartkowski, Jordan Caron, Jamie Arniel, Anton Khudobin
Projected Canadiens lines
Michael Cammalleri-Tomas Plekanec-Andrei Kostitsyn
Travis Moen-Scott Gomez-Brian Gionta
Mathieu Darche-Lars Eller-Jeff Halpern
Benoit Pouliot/Yannick Weber-Tom Pyatt-Ryan White
Romas Hamrlik-James Wisniewski/Yannick Weber
Hal Gill-P.K. Subban
Jaroslav Spacek-Brent Sopel
Scratches: David Desharnais, Paul Mara, Alexandre Picard (lower body)