BOSTON — The Bruins will face their archrivals from Montreal for the first time this season Thursday night at the Garden, and they'll do it with a new look to their forward lines and possibly an old face returning on defense.
The Bruins stuck with the revamped lines debuted in Wednesday's practice for Thursday's morning skate, which means Rich Peverley should be back with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand against Montreal. Nathan Horton has been reunited with David Krejci, but with Benoit Pouliot on the opposite wing instead of Milan Lucic.
Lucic remains with Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin after that trio combined for five goals and 13 points in their first two games together last week. The fourth line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton also remains intact.
Jordan Caron is expected to be the scratch up front, with Pouliot remaining in the lineup to face his former club.
There should also finally be a healthy scratch on defense. Adam McQuaid has been cleared to play after missing the last four games with a neck injury. That will likely push Steven Kampfer back to the press box, but all seven defensemen will skate in warm-ups as a precaution against any last-minute setbacks for McQuaid.
"He's been cleared to go so we'll have seven D's out there [for warm-ups]," Bruins coach Claude Julien said of McQuaid. "But the possibility of him playing is probably very good."
McQuaid doesn't play a flashy game, but his physical presence and strong defensive work has been missed during his absence.
"Obviously, his experience when you compare him to the other two guys [Kampfer and Matt Bartkowski] and he's a very, very physical player, great at winning battles in the corner," Julien said. "When he's on top of his game he makes a good first pass, keeps his game simple but very effective. That's what Adam's brought to this team and that's why Adam was a big part of us winning last year."
There was no clear indication on who will get the start in goal for the Bruins. Tuukka Rask was technically the first goalie off the ice at the morning skate, but the entire team came off together. Tim Thomas followed Rask immediately off the ice and did not remain out for any extra work. It would seem more logical to start Thomas on Thursday and give Rask the nod Saturday in Montreal, where Thomas has struggled (3-7-3, 3.32 GAA), but Julien won't tip his hand until the pregame warm-up.
The Canadiens are expected to start Carey Price, who is off to a slow start this season (2-4-2, 2.86 GAA, .887 save percentage) but did stop 21 of 22 shots he faced in Wednesday's 5-1 win over Philadelphia.
Montreal is without defensemen Andrei Markov (knee) and Chris Campoli (hamstring) and forwards Scott Gomez (upper body) and Ryan White (groin), but did get defenseman Jaroslav Spacek back from a rib injury earlier this week.
Max Pacioretty also did not miss any time after suffering a wrist injury on Monday and is expected to face Zdeno Chara and the Bruins for the first time since Chara ended his season last March with a hit into a stanchion at the Bell Centre.
Jean Hebert and Stephen Walkom will be the referees, with Matt MacPherson and Scott Driscoll working the lines.
Projected Bruins lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Rich Peverley
Milan Lucic-Chris Kelly-Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid
Scratches: Jordan Caron, Steven Kampfer
Projected Canadiens lines
Travis Moen-Tomas Plekanec-Brian Gionta
Max Pacioretty-David Desharnais-Erik Cole
Michael Cammalleri-Lars Eller-Andrei Kostitsyn
Mathieu Darche-Petteri Nokelainen-Mike Blunden
Josh Gorges-P.K. Subban
Hal Gill-Raphael Diaz
Jaroslav Spacek-Yannick Weber
Scratches: Scott Gomez (upper body), Aaron Palushaj, Alexei Emelin