The Montreal Canadiens versus the Boston Bruins.
It just hits different.
After 641 days of waiting, the two iconic franchises will do battle once again.
As has been the case so many times so far this season for the Canadiens, a little good was outweighed by a lot of bad. Only this time it wasn’t their play that left a bitter taste in fans mouths.
Primeau or Montembeault?
Goaltender Jake Allen was forced to leave the game and did not return after being bowled into by Detroit captain Dylan Larkin last night. Allen was removed from the game by concussion spotters and despite clearing concussion protocol did not return. Jonathan Drouin experienced a similar situation against the Red Wings more than 10 days ago. Despite clearing protocol, he has missed the last 6 games now with recurring headaches.
So, the Montreal Canadiens are again choosing to be extremely cautious with one of their players. With Carey Price just starting to work his way back into game shape, Allen’s importance to the team can’t be overstated. It therefore made sense that the Habs turned around and called up Cayden Primeau from the Laval Rocket late last night. He’ll either play in the arena where he won two Beanpot titles for Northeastern or backup Samuel Montembeault, who looked shaky at times against the Red Wings.
That’s it for the bad.
Like sweatpants on an NFL Sunday, Ryan Poehling is starting to look comfortable. The good last night was that Poehling was one of the best players on the ice for the Montreal Canadiens and scored his first goal in just his second game with the big club. Poehling was flying between Alex Belzile and Michael Pezzetta on the fourth line and enjoyed some well deserved time on the power-play. The Habs centreman didn’t look out of place on the wing with Joel Armia and Jake Evans either when Artturi Lehkonen missed some shifts in the third after clattering in to the boards before making a spectacular no-look, backhand pass to Chris Wideman for the equalizer.
“(I’m just) playing the way I know I can play,” Poehling told reporters after the game. “I think that’s the biggest thing. In training camp I was so hesitant and inconsistent… I didn’t trust myself. I felt like I went down to Laval and kind of figured that out and came here and just said ‘You know what, you have to have the same mindset. That’s the player that you are and that’s what you have to do.’ So I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that so far.”
The team won’t skate today ahead of their second game of a back-to-back tonight in Beantown. Lineup decisions will be revealed when head coach Dominique Ducharme meets the media just after 5 o’clock this afternoon.
Here’s how the Montreal Canadiens are expected to lineup against the Boston Bruins tonight.
Hoffman – Suzuki – Toffoli
Anderson – Dvorak – Gallagher
Lehkonen – Evans – Armia
Pezzetta – Poehling – Belzile
Chiarot – Petry
Kulak – Savard
Romanov – Wideman
The boys from Boston
The Habs will take on Boston for the first time in the post-Zdeno Chara era tonight. The Bruins are 7-5-0 this season and coming off of a 5-2 matinee victory over the New Jersey Devils yesterday.
Boston are middle of the pack in most statistical categories so far this season. But two stats stand out in particular. Nick Suzuki has often referenced Patrice Bergeron as a player he’d like to model his game after. Well, the Canadiens young centre could get a rude awakening in the faceoff dot tonight against the B’s captain. Bergeron has the highest winning percentage in the league at 64%. While he has been on fire in the points department over the last two weeks, Suzuki’s faceoff numbers still leave a lot to be desired at 44.2%. It doesn’t get much better as a team. The B’s are second in the NHL in faceoff percentage while the Habs are in the basement in 28th.
The other big advantage for the Bruins is on the man advantage. While the Montreal Canadiens have improved both from a production and execution standpoint on the power-play the last three games, Boston are one of the best teams in the league up a man. The B’s have the seventh best power-play in the NHL and despite not surrendering a power-play goal in three games for the first time this season, the Habs are still 29th in the league on the penalty kill.
Are the Bruins still big and bad?
Without Chara, Boston have suffered. In the height department that is. The Bruins actually have a smaller team than the Canadiens this season per Elite Prospects. The Habs are actually 29th in the league in average team height while Boston are just behind in 30th.
One of the smaller players on the ice for the Bruins also illicits the most rage from the Habs fan base. Brad Marchand leads the team in points with 18 including two goals. He added to that with two goals against the Devils yesterday. But despite his abrasive behaviour on the ice, Marchand appears to be a quality human being off of it. He had a touching moment with Emily Cave, the widow of former Bruins forward Colby Cave, after the Oilers and B’s paid tribute to their former teammate on Thursday night. Cave tragically passed away of a brain bleed in 2020 at the age of 25.
Emily Cave gets hugs from all the Bruins, including a big and final one from Brad Marchand: pic.twitter.com/tTQ3vuBpdJ
— Evan Marinofsky (@EvanMarinofsky) November 12, 2021
Here’s how the Boston Bruins are expected to lineup against the Montreal Canadiens tonight per Puckpedia. Linus Ullmark is expected to get the start in between the pipes.
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
Hall – Coyle – Foligno
Debrusk – Haula – Kuhlman
Blidh – Nosek – Lazar
Forbort – McAvoy
Grzelcyk – Carlo
Zboril – Clifton
- The Garden fortress: Boston have only lost once on home ice so far this season (5-1-0)
- This is the 751st meeting between two of the most storied franchises in hockey. The Montreal Canadiens have the edge with a record of 353-284-103-10. The Bruins do have the advantage at home though with a record of 170-142-56-7.
- Erik Haula is two points away from 200 in his NHL career
- Brendan Gallagher will play his 598th game for the club tonight; he will pass Craig Ludwig into 41st on the franchise’s all-time games played list.
- Ben Chiarot is in a three-way tie for second-most goals scored by a defenceman in the league with four goals