The Boston Bruins (15-3-5, 35 points) and Montreal Canadiens (11-7-5, 27 points) renew their rivalry for the second time in three weeks at the Bell Centre in Montreal tonight at 7 PM ET. The Canadiens won a see-saw affair 5-4 back on November 5. The two teams will also meet again in Boston Sunday night.
The longtime rivals come into the big Atlantic Division tilt headed in opposite directions. The Bruins are riding a three-game win streak and scored two goals in 48 seconds in the waning minutes of regulation and then beat the Minnesota Wild 5-4 in overtime Saturday in their last game. Meanwhile, the Habs come in on a three-game skid at 0-3-1 and blew a 4-0 lead over the Rangers and lost 6-5 in their last game.
The Bruins will once again be without top center Patrice Bergeron tonight and tomorrow night against the Ottawa Senators in Ottawa as Bergeron is now out indefinitely with a lower-body injury.
For a deeper look into the numbers for this game, check out Jason Paul’s breakdown from earlier today.
Studnicka Starts NHL Journey In Montreal
After being called up from the Providence Bruins (AHL) Wednesday Boston Bruins rookie Jack Studnicka will make his NHL debut as part of another game in the NHL’s best and longest rivalry.
“I’m excited,” said Studnicka who’s expecting a large contingent of family and friends at the Bell Centre Tuesday night. “It’s obviously a rivalry that has gone on for some years now and looking forward to the game.”
Studnicka will center Jake DeBrusk and Charlie Coyle on the second line as David Krejci moves up to the top line to fill in for Patrice Bergeron between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is hoping Studnicka can continue his solid play recently in Providence where he’s scored a goal in five consecutive games for the P-Bruins, and leads the team in scoring, with nine goals and nine assists for 18 points in 21 games.
“He’s going to start with [Charlie] Coyle on the right and [Jake] DeBrusk on the left,” said Cassidy. “It allows him to have Charlie who can help win draws if need be, a guy that’s played center down low so if they have to switch if there are any issues there. I think Jack can handle these things, but that’s the reason behind moving Charlie. He’ll play the power play with Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] out, you know, we’ve moved Coyle up, so he goes into the bumper there and see how it plays out.”
As for throwing the rookie right into the fire of this fierce rivalry and in the belly of the beast in Montreal, Cassidy is hoping the 20-year-old Studnicka who was drafted in the second round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft (53rd overall), can seize the moment.
“I think we’re living in the moment, today,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “He’s here. We expect him to go out and play his game, he’s going to have some nerves like every other guy that’s his first NHL game that happens to be at the [Bell Center]. But, you know, a big rivalry game that he’s aware of…that’ll be the butterflies for him early on and hopefully, he gets through it quickly and just plays his game.”
Krejci Jumps Back In Between Marchand And Pastrnak
The last time Bergeron was out with this current injury, Krejci stepped up and had three assists in two games. The Bruins veteran center has been en fuego as of late, scoring the two late goals Saturday to send the game into overtime and three goals and nine assists in 11 games this month.
As Marchand pointed out Monday, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Krejci can do such a great job filling in for Bergeron.
“He’s such a good player,” Marchand said of Krejci. “He sees the ice so well and he’s so good and poised with the puck that if you put some guys with him that are comfortable and can make plays and are good around the net, he’s going to make a ton of plays. I think the big thing for ‘Pasta’ [Pastrnak] and I, is we just know we have to get open and he’s going to find us.
But he’s a point-a-game guy and he’s shown his whole career that if he’s put in that position, he’s going to produce that way. He’s different than ‘Bergy’ [Bergeron] but he’s still a very, very, good player. I have so much respect for him and playing with him, I even respect him more because I do see how good he is when we’re on the ice together.”
Halak vs Price
Jaro Halak will start for the first time since making 42 saves in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals on November 16. The former Canadiens netminder is 5-4-0 with a 2.60 GAA and .900 save percentage against his former club. Halak shined in his only start as a Bruin in Montreal, making 22 saves in a 4-0 shutout at the Bell Centre last December 17. Halak is 4-1-0-3 with a 2.57 GAA and .924 save percentage and one shutout this season.
Carey Price will try to snap a three-game skid and beat the Bruins for the second time in three weeks. Price made 21 saves in the 5-4 win over the B’s November 5. He’s 10-6-0-3 with a 2.89 GAA and .907 save percentage. Price has one shutout this season.
Habs Want More Urgency
For the Canadiens to snap their losing streak, they know they need to play with more urgency and improve their team defense.
“If our forwards do a good job of backchecking through the middle, it gives the defensemen a chance to stand up and make life easier for everybody. It’s not just on the defenseman, it’s on the forwards as well,” forward Nick Cousins said Tuesday. “On the offensive side of the puck, we show a decent amount of urgency in creating chances and creating offense. It’s just having that same discipline and same effort in our own end. It just takes a commitment from everyone. If we figure out that part of our game, we can be a pretty good team moving forward.”
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – David Krejci – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – Jack Studnicka – Charlie Coyle
Anders Bjork – Sean Kuraly – Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom – Par Lindholm – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Brandon Carlo – Torey Krug
Matt Grzelcyk – Connor Clifton
In addition to Lindholm, Backes (upper-body), Zach Senyshyn (lower-body) and Karson Kuhlman (hairline tibia fracture) all remain out.
Montreal Canadiens Lines
Tomas Tatar – Phillip Danault – Brendan Gallagher
Artturi Lehkonen – Max Domi – Nick Suzuki
Charles Hudon – Jesperi Kotkaniemi – Joel Armia
Nick Cousins – Nate Thompson – Jordan Weal
Ben Chiarot – Shea Weber
Victor Mete – Jeff Petry
Morgan Reilly – Cale Fleury