The Montreal Canadiens will need to come out with one of their best performances of the season Saturday night, when the face the Boston Bruins with the Northeast Division lead and second place in the Eastern Conference on the line. The Canadiens have won four of their last five games behind great goaltending, strong offense and successful special teams play. The Bruins are an improved team since these two teams last met, as the Canadiens defense now has to deal with Jaromir Jagr in addition to the rest of Boston’s offensive weapons.
Michael Ryder has been one of the hottest players for the Canadiens lately, and had two big goals in a 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday. Since coming to Montreal in a trade from the Dallas Stars, Ryder has scored nine goals and added eight assists, providing another offensive weapon to play alongside Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta. Defensemen Andrei Markov (seven goals, 24 points) and P.K. Subban (10 goals, 30 points) have provided a huge boost for the team at both ends of the ice this season, and rookies Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher have shown a great deal of promise.
Peter Budaj started the game against the Jets, which leaves the door open for Vezina Trophy candidate Carey Price to face the Bruins well-rested. Price is 18-7-4 this season with a 2.30 goals-against average, but struggled the last time he faced the Bruins. In a Mar. 27 shootout win, Price allowed four goals on 26 shots and was replaced by Budaj for the third period. He will need to be very sharp against a Bruins team that has won three straight games if the Canadiens hope to hang on to their current spot atop the division.