Bruins Game 15 Preview: Montreal Canadiens

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

For the second time this season, the Bruins are playing in the second game of a back-to-back. Last week, the Bruins won back-to-back games against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday and the New York Rangers on Sunday. Last night, Boston took home a 6-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins after losing a 3-0 at one point in the game. Boston’s win improved their record to 11-1-2 and secures their spot for second in the overall league standings, only one point behind the Washington Capitals.

The Montreal Canadiens have not won in November so far, losing 4-1 to the Dallas Stars on Saturday. On the season, the Canadiens have a 7-5-2 record after their opening fourteen games and have put up a 6-4-0 record in their last ten games. Montreal is fifth in the Atlantic Division and is only one point of the second Wild Card position currently held by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Tuukka Rask 7-0-1 1.49 GAA .949% Last Game: 30 Saves in 5-2 win vs OTT

MTL: Carey Price (Not Confirmed) 6-4-1 2.64 GAA .915 SV% Last Game: 36 Saves in 4-1 loss to DAL

Who’s Hot:

Brad Marchand made history in many ways in Monday’s win over the Penguins, scoring five points for the second time in four games, bringing his season totals to 10-18-28 on his 13-game point streak. Marchand and Pastrnak are now the first pair of winger teammates in NHL history to average 2+ points-per-game in the first 14 games of a season, further cementing how good of a duo they have become. Marchand now leads the NHL in assists with eighteen and is second in points behind Pastrnak.

 

Jonathan Drouin was acquired by the Canadiens from the Tampa Bay Lightning in June 2017 and in the two seasons he has played in Montreal, he has seen improvements in his scoring numbers. This season, so far, the 24-year-old is tied for the team-lead in points with 7-5-12 numbers in 14 games. Drouin has four points in his last four games, but was held pointless in his last game against the Stars in Dallas.

Tuukka Rask has been absolutely lights out in the 2019-2020 season for Boston and he is silencing the previous stigma that he is a slow-starting goaltender going through eight starts without a regulation loss. Tuukka has the best save percentage in the National Hockey League (minimum of five games played) with a .949 save percentage. Rask is also number one in the league with a 1.49 goals-against-average. The 32-year-old is on another level right now and he will look to continue it against the Canadiens.

Who’s Not:

Paul Byron has been one of those depth players for Montreal that teams are worried of. The 30-year-old forward scored 31 points in 56 games for the Canadiens last year but in ’19/’20, he only has three assists in fourteen games playing around twelve minutes a game. Montreal is in need of some extra depth scoring and Byron could add some additional scoring if he manages to get the monkey off his back.

Sean Kuraly is not known for being a high goal-scorer in the NHL, but with zero goals in 14 games, the Bruins need him to score more in these highly competitive games. Kuraly put up a career-high eight goals last season, but he has the potential to put up more even though he plays on the fourth line. Kuraly will likely score soon, but until then, he has not been great for Boston.

Milestone Watch:

Boston Bruins:

  • D Zdeno Chara is playing in his 1,500th NHL regular-season game. He becomes the 21st player and the 6th defenceman in league history to do so.
  • D Torey Krug is one point away (299) from 300 career NHL points
  • F Patrice Bergeron is one even-strength goal away (214) from passing Cam Neely (214) for sole possession of 6th-most even-strength goals in Bruins history

Montreal Canadiens:

  • F Tomas Tatar is three points away (297) from 300 career NHL points
  • G Carey Price is one shutout away (45) from tying Ken Dryden (46) for 3rd-most shutouts in Canadiens history

Bruins vs Canadiens Outlook:

Last season, the Bruins won the four-game season series against the Canadiens with a 2-1-1 record. The Bruins took home a 3-2 win on November 24th and a 4-0 win on December 17th. The Bruins lost a 3-2 overtime game on January 14th and a 3-0 loss on October 27th. Boston averaged 2.25 goals-for-per-game against Montreal, allowing an average of two goals against in that same time span.

Tonight’s game goes down in the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada – an arena where the Bruins have played a combined 61 games at. Throughout the history there, Boston has an overall record of 27-29-2-3 when playing their Original Six rivals, scoring on average 2.59 goals-for-per-game and allowing on average 2.79 goals-against-per-game.

This season, the Bruins are ahead of the Canadiens in the standings and so far, the Bruins are looking like one of the top teams in the entire NHL and their overall league position of second is further proof of that. Boston has the best power-play percentage over the other 31 teams at 30.6%. The B’s also have the ninth-best penalty-kill, rocking at 86.0%.

Montreal, on the other hand, is 15th in the league on the power-play, scoring on 20.8% of their opportunities while having a 69.8% penalty-kill percentage (28th in NHL).

Bruins Lineup News:

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Bruins Game 23 Preview: Montreal Canadiens

Chara Canadiens

(Credit: Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

By: Drew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter: @doobshmoob

The Boston Bruins travel north of the border on Saturday to rekindle one of the best rivalries in hockey with the Montreal Canadiens. The Bruins snagged six of the eight available points in their last four games, most recently topping the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime on Friday.

On the other hand, the Canadiens march into the fray with an 11-7-5 record, trailing the B’s by just one point. With both teams currently in wild-card positions, this game could go a long way in determining the Eastern Conference’s playoff tree by the season’s end.

Who’s Hot?

Joakim Nordstrom notched the game-winning goal on Friday against the Penguins. It was the first overtime goal of his career, coming off a deflection on Torey Krug’s shot from the point. The tally was Nordstrom’s fourth of the season. It seems that his moving up and down the lineup has not hampered his game thus far. Even when he’s not producing, Nordstrom has been impressive and has proven to be a great free-agent acquisition.

David Krejci has been asked to fill the skates of Patrice Bergeron on the first line. While that’s a tall order, Krejci has done his best and has made the most of the extra ice time. The centerman registered a helper in Friday’s game but was also partially responsible for Nordstrom’s goal. The 32-year-old made a stellar play along the boards to keep the puck in the zone at the end of a long 3-on-3 shift. That possession eventually resulted in Nordstrom’s heroic deflection.

Max Domi has proven to be a great addition for the Habs. The 23-year-old leads the team in scoring with 11 goals and 15 assists through 23 games. He recently had an 11-game point streak going that came to an end on Friday in Buffalo. Domi will certainly be looking to pick apart are damaged Bruins defense and a hot-and-cold Tuukka Rask.

Jonathan Drouin, one of Domi’s linemates, has registered eight goals and 11 assists so far this season. Seven of his 19 points have come on the man advantage which has been keeping Montreal’s power play out of the dog house. The Habs have a 14.6% execution rate when up a man, while the league’s average is 20.7%.

Who’s Not?

Noel Acciari has remained almost silent for the Bruins. He has just one point in 19 games and is a minus-6. The depth forward has bounced around Boston’s bottom-six this season, averaging 11:36 in ice time per game.

Acciari Canadiens

(Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot)

Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen have continued to struggle with the hockey blues. Neither forward has registered a point since November 11th. Though they have had some good shifts, execution is the trait they have lacked which is something they need to turn around. Bjork was scratched for Friday’s game which could be a sign of things to come if he can’t find the scoresheet.

Matthew Peca has struggled on Montreal’s third line. He has come up with just six points in 21 games while earning a plus-minus rating of minus-5. He’s been averaging less than 16 shifts per game and needs to up his game to give the Habs some much-needed secondary scoring.

Bruins vs. Canadiens Outlook

The Bruins have a tough test in front of them in the form of Montreal. The Canadiens weren’t originally expected to be a competitive team this season. However, they have proven the naysayers wrong and will be in contention for a playoff spot if they continue to compete at the level they have been.

The Bruins will likely need Rask to stand on his head much like Jaroslav Halak was forced to on Friday. While they aren’t facing the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Habs have some lethal scorers who will make a mess of Boston if they are not careful. Meanwhile, the Canadiens will look to take advantage of Boston’s banged-up defense and a number of rookies taking the ice for the Bruins on Saturday.

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The Canadiens recent moves and how they could impact the Bruins

(Photo Credit: FanRag Sports: Minas Panagiotakis)

By Mike Cratty                                                                                               Twitter: @Mike_Cratty

Over the past year, in particular, Montreal Canadiens general manager, Marc Bergevin, has shown he is willing to make a big splash in whatever way he feels is necessary. Being the rival of the Bruins and a team that always brings an intense matchup, their big splashes are ones to prepare for and monitor.

First, there was the Subban-Weber trade in the summer of 2016. Steven Stamkos re-signed in Tampa Bay for the long haul, and the Adam Larsson-Taylor Hall trade went down on the very same day. June 30, 2016, a historical date, but really a historical hour or so.

I was sitting at my first session of freshman orientation at Merrimack College on June 30. These moves all happened during parts in which everyone in the room had to be quiet. I wanted to scream in shock and excitement but couldn’t. It was bad. All memories aside, what did this trade mean from the Boston Bruins perspective and how will it affect the Bruins going forward?

In July 2012, the Philadelphia Flyers sent a 14-year/$110 million offer sheet out for Shea Weber. Of course, Nashville matched, as they didn’t want to lose their franchise defender. Fast forward to the summer of 2016, after some P.K. Subban rumors had died down. A blockbuster shocks the world. P.K. Subban for Shea Weber straight up.

Shea Weber’s contract is now Marc Bergevin’s problem. Weber is already 32-years-old and carries an AAV of $7,857,143 through the 2025-2026 season.

https://www.capfriendly.com/players/shea-weber

(Credit: CapFriendly)

David Poile’s brilliant mind came up with a way to dump that horrendous contract off to Montreal. The move from Montreal’s perspective baffles people to this day.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Nashville Predators have the 28-year-old P.K. Subban at $9,000,000 AAV through the 2021-2022 season. Four years younger and slightly more money? David Poile will take it.

https://www.capfriendly.com/players/pk-subban

(Credit: CapFriendly)

Weber and Subban are both very high-level defensemen, but there is a very reasonable argument favoring the Nashville Predators in this deal. More money, fewer years, younger player beats less money, more years, older player. Subban will be around Weber’s age now when his deal is done, Weber will be past his mid 30’s and possibly declining.

How does this deal affect the Boston Bruins? For starters, P.K. Subban was a Bruins agitator. No matter what time of year, P.K. Subban almost always seemed to make an impact against the Bruins. Whether it was being a pain to play against, producing offense, or both. He is an elite puck-mover and skater that handles himself well physically and in all three zones. Hopefully, the Bruins don’t run into Nashville in the Stanley Cup Finals down the road.

The Canadiens received a stud defenseman in return for him, but one who may not be elite for as long as P.K. Subban. In the end, Montreal got an elite defender for an elite defender, just an elite defender that hopefully won’t agitate the Bruins as much.

Fast forward a little over a year later and there goes Mikhail Sergachev. The Canadiens top defensive prospect drafted ninth overall in the 2016 draft. A prospect who Bergevin said publicly said he wouldn’t trade in February 2017. This is what Bergevin had to say, regarding trading Mikhail Sergachev:

Welp, there goes that. On June 15, 2017, exactly four months later, Mikhail Sergachev was traded. The Montreal Canadiens acquired 2013 third-overall pick, F Jonathan Drouin and a 2018 conditional sixth-round pick from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for D Mikhail Sergachev and a 2018 conditional second-round pick. Shortly after the trade, Marc Bergevin signed Drouin to a six-year/$33 million deal. Drouin will most certainly exceed the value his contract presents. He is one of the better puck handling and distributing forwards in the NHL. Drouin will most likely see more ice time in Montreal, which will only accelerate his growth into a force to be reckoned with.

Mikhail Sergachev is one of the top defensive prospects in the NHL. Putting him on a team with Victor Hedman is very dangerous. Hedman will be an excellent mentor for the young kid. Whether Sergachev plays on the top pair with Hedman or rather on the second pair, Tampa Bay has a very nice one-two punch. Anton Stralman is locked up through 2018-2019, and Slater Koekkoek and Jake Dotchin are young prospects close to obtaining NHL ice time. Adding Sergachev to a talented team like Tampa Bay makes them all the more intimidating.

Sergachev played four games with the Canadiens last season before being sent back to the powerhouse Memorial Cup Champion Windsor Spitfires of the OHL. He has all the tools to set him up as an elite NHL defenseman and averaged 0.85 points-per-game in two regular seasons with the Spitfires, 0.75 in the playoffs.

This trade doesn’t affect the Boston Bruins like the Subban-Weber trade did, as it was made within the division, but it gives two Atlantic Division teams some different looks that the Bruins should be aware of. If Alex Galchenyuk ends up staying in Montreal, he and Jonathan Drouin will be lethal together. Add Nikita Scherbak or Brendan Gallagher to that line and they’re going to give teams big problems. Galchenyuk and Drouin are two very highly touted prospects that are on the verge of breaking out.

The Bruins do have talented forward lines and defensive pairings with some intriguing prospects on the way on the sides of the ice, but with a divisional general manager in Bergevin that is capable of making big moves, it’s got to be hard not to monitor.

Nathan Beaulieu was traded to the Buffalo Sabres, another divisional team. Not a very major move, but one that keeps a young, talented defenseman in the division. Beaulieu signed a two-year/$4.8 million extension with the Sabres at the end of July, not too long ago.

In free agency this summer, the Canadiens added defensemen Karl Alzner, David Schlemko, Jordie Benn, former Bruins defenseman, Joe Morrow, and veteran forward Ales Hemsky. The Bruins weren’t very active in free agency, which wasn’t a bad thing. They didn’t need to make waves, but the Montreal Canadiens got better. The major losses the Canadiens suffered were long-time Canadien, Andrei Markov, who they willingly let go, and scoring winger Alexander Radulov. Nathan Beaulieu and Mikhail Sergachev fall into this category as well. All of those players were replaced, whether their replacements were better or not.

It’s impossible to tell exactly how these new additions and subtractions will affect the Bruins, but it shows the Canadiens are motivated to keep pace in the Atlantic Division, constantly butting heads with the black and gold. These will especially be tough because of the fact that the Bruins roster is undergoing some significant change as well. The Canadiens have a completely new look coming into the 2017-2018 season. How the Bruins will handle their new look team has yet to be seen, but will be interesting.