Boston Bruins at Montreal Canadiens Game Preview

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

If it feels like it’s been quite some time since the Boston Bruins last played a game, that’s because it kind of has been–they last played back on Feb. 2, but are back in action tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. NBC Sports Network has the exclusive airing rights starting at 7:30 p.m. This game is also their first showing of Rivalry Wednesday where the two teams are actually genuinely in an identifiable rivalry.

The condensed 2013 season schedule means the Bruins and Habs will play one another just four times, but these games always tend to be exciting. Both teams have won six games so far this season, though the Canadiens lost two in regulation while the Bruins lost one in regulation and one in overtime. Last season, a home-and-home series of two losses against the Habs late in October provided the inspiration for Boston to embark on an amazing winning streak for the month of November.

Right now this season, the Habs are in a pretty easy part of their schedule, playing lots of games at home. Home-ice advantage is a quantifiable thing and the team enjoys giving their passionate fans something to cheer about in Centre Bell.

Both teams’ starting goaltenders are pretty hot right now: Tuukka Rask got some rest after the redemption of that 1-0 shutout on Saturday while Carey Price has won six straight and allowed just one goal in his last two games. Look for those two to face each other in net tonight. Rask’s record against Montreal isn’t exactly anything to write home about–1-6-1, 2.76 goals-against average, .908 save percentage in eight starts–but there’s no time like the present to start changing that, right?

The Bruins traveled up to Montreal yesterday with Ryan Spooner in tow, plus Brad Marchand, though he’s classified as a game-time decision and is not on the ice for practice today. In practice yesterday, four different guys were wearing the yellow second line jersey–Gregory Campbell was the extra, but he subbed for Marchand after he left the game on Saturday.

Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton did not make the trip, so the Merlot Line looked kind of weird in practice: Spooner was with Jamie Tardif and Lane MacDermid, creating a fully AHL-callup fourth line.

There’s also, of course, the possibility of physicality between these two teams. The fact that Thornton is still unable to play doesn’t change that because guys like Campbell, Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic and Adam McQuaid can hold their own. Plus, there was that one time when Patrice Bergeron got in a fight.

First place in the Eastern Conference is on the line tonight, so this game should be exciting.

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