BOSTON -- First place in the Northeast Division will be on the line once again tonight when the Bruins and Canadiens meet in the third of four matchups (the next and last is April 6 at Montreal) this season.
The last time the Habs were at TD Garden, they erased a 2-1 deficit in the third period to win 3-2. Montreal was able to take advantage of Zdeno Chara being in the penalty box for 17 minutes after he charged defenseman Alexei Emelin for what Chara (and many in the arena) felt was a cheap shot on Tyler Seguin. The Bruins don’t regret that their captain came to the defense of a teammate, but they know they must keep their cool with a Canadiens team that seems to know how to get under their collective skin.
Head coach Claude Julien pointed out after the team’s Wednesday morning skate that the Bruins must play their trademark physical game but within the confines of the rules, as the Habs have the ninth best power play in the NHL.
“It’s pretty simple and the bottom line is you gotta stay out of the penalty box,” said Julien. “They’ve got a good power play. We have to play a certain way but you have to keep it within the rules. If you’re a physical team, you have to be physical but you can’t be stupid with the types of hits you’re giving and do it cleanly. If you do that, then you’re sticking with your game plan. We expect our team to be a physical team every night that we play, whether it happens or not. But we also expect our team to be disciplined, and at the end of the night that’s what you hope has happened.”
Another thing the Bruins lacked in their 3-2 loss on March 3 is a strong start. For the second straight time, the Canadiens will be playing the second of back-to-back games and coming off a loss. The Bruins need to set the tone and not allow Montreal to find their legs.
“We have to have good starts to a game,” Julien said. “We have to set the stage of what kind of game we want to play and it has to be right off the drop of the puck. I think last game, both teams were fairly cautious. It took a while and it wasn’t a high-scoring game. I think both teams respected the other team’s offense and played well defensively, the goaltenders were good, and the same thing is gonna happen tonight because two teams are battling for first. It’s the same scenario and we’re hoping to come out on top this time.”
Of course this time around, the Bruins will be playing in front of their own fans.
“It’s always fun to play the Canadiens,” Caron said. “It’s a great atmosphere and everybody is excited about it. I’m sure it’s going to be a good game tonight. They’re a really good team this year and they’re pretty fast, so we’re going to need to play them pretty hard. We need to play our style and if we do that, we’ll be fine.”