Bruins, Canadiens Both Looking to Get Back on Track

Bruins, Canadiens Both Looking to Get Back on Track And so it begins.

For the first time since the Bruins swept the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals last April, these longtime rivals meet Thursday night at the TD Garden.

These rivalry games always seem to bring out the best in the two teams and their fans, so it promises to be a great atmosphere and packed house at the Garden.

Both teams are looking to gain some traction in the standings and get their seasons going, so there could be some playoff-style hockey with hunger and desperation. It should be another great chapter to this storied rivalry.

When & Where

Thursday, Nov. 5, 7 p.m. (NESN)
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.

Records

Bruins (6-7-1, 13 points, fourth place in the Northeast Division, tied for 11th in Eastern Conference)
Canadiens (7-8-0, 14 points, tied for second in Northeast Division, tied for eighth in Eastern Conference)

Head to Head

This is the first of six meetings between these longtime archrivals. The Habs and Bruins hook up again on Dec. 4 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Feb. 4 in Boston, Feb. 7 at Montreal, March 2 at Montreal and then March 13 at Montreal.

Not counting the preseason, the Bruins haven’t lost in regulation to the Canadiens since Game 7 of the 2008 Eastern Conference quarterfinals on April 21, 2008. Last season, the Bruins went 5-0-1 in the regular-season series against the Habs and then swept the Eastern Conference quarterfinals series over Montreal in four games.

Skinny

The Bruins finally broke their trend of lose one, win one, but not in the fashion they would have preferred. After losing 1-0 to the Rangers and 2-0 to the Red Wings on Tuesday night, they now have two streaks going that they would prefer to snap as soon as possible. Boston has lost two games in a row for the first time this season and has been shut out two straight games for the first time since March 17 and 20 in 2007.

The Bruins still seem out of sync and simply can't buy a goal right now. Frustration is surely setting in as they seem to be doing all the right things yet still can’t light the lamp. They have also watched their power play become the worst in the league. Some of this can be attributed to the absence of their leading scorer from the last three seasons, Marc Savard. But even after the trade of Chuck Kobasew last month, the Bruins still have five 20-goal scorers from last season in their lineup.

Luckily for the Bruins, the Habs are having just as much trouble getting on track and scoring this season. Just as the Bruins have had to deal with injuries, the Canadiens have been shorthanded since the first game when they lost Andrei Markov, their best player and defenseman, to a torn ankle tendon. They have also lost former Bruin Hal Gill and Matthew O’Byrne on what has become a patchwork defense. Carey Price has struggled again for them, and Montreal's special teams have been atrocious.

The Habs will be using last season’s sweep as motivation in this game, and the Bruins will have motivation to simply find the twine and silence the critics that grew louder this week with their shutout streak and Phil Kessel’s return in Toronto.

Projected Lineups

Bruins

Forwards

Marco Sturm–Patrice Bergeron–Mark Recchi
Blake Wheeler–Vladimir Sobotka–Michael Ryder
Daniel Paille—Steve Begin–Brad Marchand
Mikko Lehtonen–Trent Whitfield–Shawn Thornton

Defensemen
Zdeno Chara–Derek Morris
Matt Hunwick–Dennis Wideman
Mark Stuart–Andrew Ference

Goaltenders
Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask

Candiens

Forwards

Mike Cammalleri–Scott Gomez–Brian Gionta
Guillaume Latendresse–Tomas Plekanec–Maxim Lapierre
Max Pacioretty–Glen Metropolit–Travis Moen
Andrei Kostitsyn–Kyle Chipchura–Gregory Stewart

Defensemen
Roman Hamrlik–Jaroslav Spacek
Josh Gorges–Mathieu Carle
Paul Mara–Marc-Andre Bergeron

Goaltenders
Jaroslav Halak
Carey Price

Note: The Canadiens called up centers Tom Pyatt and Ryan White on Wednesday. They are both expected to play, but it is not known where.

Goaltender Matchup

Bruins
Tim Thomas
is 4-6-0 with a 2.60 GAA and .912 save percentage. Thomas has one shutout this season.

Tuukka Rask is 2-1-1 with a 2.41 GAA and .915 save percentage. Rask got his first shutout of the season on Saturday with a 19-save performance in a 2-0 win over Edmonton.

Canadiens
Jaroslav Halak is 5-2-0 with a 2.85 GAA and .893 save percentage.

Carey Price is 2-6-0 with a 3.63 GAA and .883 save percentage.

Stat Sheet

Bruins
Forward Patrice Bergeron (four goals, four assists) leads the team in points with eight. Bergeron is also tied with injured center Marc Savard and forward Blake Wheeler for the team lead in goals.

Forward Marco Sturm (two goals, five assists), defenseman Derek Morris (one goal, six assists) Wheeler (four goals, three assists) and Savard (four goals, three assists) are tied for second in team scoring with seven points each.

Defenseman Zdeno Chara leads the blue-line scoring with six assists and six points. Chara and Morris are tied for the lead in assists.

The Bruins have been outscored 36-31 in their first 13 games.

The Bruins are averaging 2.21 goals per game and allowing 2.57 goals per game

The Bruins' power play continues to struggle this season. After going 0-for-3 against the Red Wings on Tuesday night, the Bruins are now 0-for-16 on the power play in their last five games. They are 1-for-22 over the last eight games and just 6-for-56 (11.5 percent) this season, the worst power play in the NHL.

The Bruins allowed their first power-play goal in six games at Detroit and were 1-for-3 on the penalty kill in the 2-0 loss at Detroit. Boston has allowed 11 power-play goals on 49 opportunities against them and is now killing off opponents’ power plays at a 78 percent clip.

The Bruins are 4-4-0 at home this season, 1-0-0 against the Northeast Divsion and 3-3-1 against the Eastern Conference.

Canadiens

Forwards Mike Cammalleri (seven goals, seven assists) and Tomas Plekanec (four goals, 10 assists) lead the team with 14 points each. Cammalleri leads the team in goals, and Plekanec leads the team in assists. Plekanec has three points in his last two games.

Forwards Scott Gomez (two goals, eight assists) and Brian Gionta (six goals, four assists) are second on the team in points with 10 each. Gomez has three points in his last four games, and Gionta has three points in his last two games.

Former Bruins forward Glen Metropolit (two goals, six assists) is third on the team in points with eight.

Defenseman Roman Hamrlik (two goals, four assists) leads the Montreal blue line with six points.

The Canadiens have been outscored 50-40 in their first 15 games.

Montreal is averaging 2.67 goals per game and allowing 3.33 goals per game.

The Habs are 8-for-56 on the power play and are scoring at a 14.3 percent clip on the man advantage.

The Canadiens have allowed 16 power-play goals on 66 opportunities against them, and their penalty kill has a 75.8 percent rate.

Montreal is 2-5-0 on the road, 3-1-0 against the Northeast Division and 7-3-0 against the Eastern Conference.

Black and Blue

Bruins
David Krejci has the H1N1 flu. He will be isolated from the team until he is symptom- and fever-free for 24 hours.

Forward Marc Savard was placed on long-term injury reserve with a broken left foot on Oct. 21.

Forward Milan Lucic was placed on long-term injured reserve on Oct. 18 and had successful surgery on a broken index finger. Neither is expected to return this month.

Forward Byron Bitz missed the Bruins' 1-0 loss at New York on Sunday and is questionable with a groin injury.

Candiens
Former Bruins defenseman Hal Gill was placed on the injured list on Monday with a lower-body injury. Coach Jacques Martin said Gill has been playing with a leg injury for three weeks, and doctors have advised him to rest. He's expected to return in late November.

Forward Georges Laraque (back) is day-to-day.

Matt D’Agostini
(concussion) is day-to-day.

Defenseman Andrei Markov is still on injured reserve and expected to miss three more months with a torn ankle tendon.

Defenseman Matthew O’Byrne remains out indefinitely with a knee injury.

This Date in Bruins History

On Nov. 5, 2005, Jiri Slegr scores two power-play goals in a 35-second span in the first period, and Patrice Bergeron has a spectacular end-to-end rush for another power-play goal in the second, leading the Bruins to a 6-3 victory over the Penguins.

Overheard

"We hit some posts and missed some great opportunities [Tuesday]. Somehow, you’re going to have to make it happen if you want to turn this thing around. Simple as that. It’s up to us to decide how tired we are of losing games that we hear we’re playing OK in and do something about it.’’
–Head coach Claude Julien on his team’s recent futility and losing

Press Box

Bruins
The Bruins are mired in mediocrity.

Kathryn Tappen thinks the goals will come for the Bruins.

Tim Thomas still has a chance at the Olympics, but he is more focused on helping the Bruins turn things around.

Do the Bruins resemble the 2008-09 Canadiens?

Canadiens
The Habs are trying to shore up their depleted blue line.

Frustration is building for the Canadiens.

Recent call-up Mathieu Carle is fitting in nicely.

Eric Meliton of "Oh Canadiens" chatted with NESN.com about the Habs.

NHL
TSN analyst Pierre McGuire made his early Team Canada picks.

Should the Sabres bring back Martin Biron?

The Avalanche lead the Western Conference right now, but no one seems to care in Denver.

Is Lightning forward Vinny Lecavalier on the trading block again?

Outlook

The Bruins game plan is rather simple: score.

The problem is figuring out how. Considering they haven’t exactly been playing that poorly lately, they may just want to maintain their patience and stick to their game plan. Shots have been getting through, and the Bruins seem to be creating more chances.

Against a desperate and embattled Habs squad, they will need to execute their system once again, but this time, Boston will have to win more puck battles. Even though Montreal's power play is struggling, the B's can't end up in the box or let the excitement of the rivalry cause them to lose focus.

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