NHL on NBCSN: Bruins-Canadiens tangle in Montreal on Rivalry Night

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NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Montreal Canadiens host the Boston Bruins at Bell Centre at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

The Boston Bruins have rolled through the Eastern Conference this season, but one team they’ve yet to figure out are their historic rivals, the Montreal Canadiens.

The Habs have won both meetings this season and five in a row going back to last year. Playing hockey isn’t easy, and while wins have been plentiful for the B’s, you’d better believe their rivals getting the best of them sticks in their collective craws.

The Bruins come into tonight’s game on a five-game winning streak that has seen their offense dominate. They have 21 goals over that span and even came away with a shootout victory against Tampa Bay last Saturday.

Jarome Iginla has been on fire lately with three goals and two assists during the win streak. He cracked the 20-goal barrier for the 15th time in his career and has 49 points this season. Patrice Bergeron had a goal and two helpers against Florida on Sunday and Boston has nine players in double-figures in goals with Brad Marchand leading the way with 21.

When you factor all of that in with the tremendous defense led by Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask’s stellar goaltending, it makes for a more-than formidable lineup. These things bother not the Habs, however.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $3,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Wednesday night’s NHL games. It’s just $25 to join and first prize is $800. Starts Wednesday at 7:30pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Montreal geared up for what could turn out to be an eventual playoff battle with the Bruins by acquiring Thomas Vanek from the New York Islanders. Vanek has scored 30 of his 271 career goals against Boston, the most against any opponent. His years with the Buffalo Sabres helped make that possible, but it’s built him a résumé that attracted the Habs.

The Habs offense is a funky brand of attack that’s led from the back end by P.K. Subban and up front by Max Pacioretty. Subban’s 45 points are tops on the team, but it’s Pacioretty and his 30 goals that will make him a focus of Boston’s defense. Alex Galchenyuk’s return from injury as well as Vanek’s arrival have given a lift to Montreal’s offense, although lately times have been tougher.

Montreal comes into the game having lost three of the past four games and Carey Price’s absence due to injury hasn’t helped. Instead, Peter Budaj and Dustin Tokarski have had to take the reins to make sure they don’t slip too far back into a muddled Eastern Conference playoff race.

If Montreal comes away with a win tonight they’ll jump over the Toronto Maple Leafs into second place behind Boston. The Bruins aren’t in real danger of losing their Atlantic Division lead, but if they can help keep the Habs down and turn their fortune against their hated rivals, they’ll be more than happy to do it on their turf.

Sutter won’t retire from coaching, willing to join a rebuild

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Given he turns 59 this summer, has won a pair of Stanley Cups and coached over 1,000 NHL games, Darryl Sutter probably could’ve called it a career after getting fired by the Kings earlier this month, and done so comfortably.

But that’s not happening.

In speaking with TSN’s Gary Lawless, Sutter said he has no plans to retire from coaching. What’s more — and, perhaps more interesting — is that Sutter said he wouldn’t limit his next job solely to a contending team.

Currently, there are just two vacant coaching gigs in Buffalo and Florida. We wrote about the Panthers’ search earlier today (more on that here). The situation in Buffalo is more complex, as the Sabres need to hire a new general manager and coach. Logic suggests the GM will be hired first, then spearhead the new bench boss hire.

In that regard, Buffalo is pretty intriguing.

Though the Kings have yet to be contacted for an interview request, ex-GM Dean Lombardi has been tied to the Sabres gig. And Lombardi, of course, is forever tied to Sutter — he was the one that hired Sutter after a five-year coaching exodus to join the Kings, and the pair went on to achieve great success together.

That five-year coaching exodus does need to be mentioned, though.

History suggests that Sutter isn’t joking when he says he’ll be picky about the situation and won’t rush to find the right fit. After being dismissed in Calgary in 2006, he returned to work on the family farm in Viking, Alberta and seemed fairly content doing so.

That said, hockey always seems to draw him back.

“The game has given us everything,” Sutter told Lawless. “We still have lots to give.”

Coyotes fire assistant coach Newell Brown

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The Arizona Coyotes have parted ways with some personnel.

Assistant coach Newell Brown has been fired, along with Doug Soetaert, who was the general manager of their AHL affiliate in Tuscon.

Pro scouts David MacLean and Jim Roque won’t be back either. Their contracts will not be renewed.

“I’d like to thank Newell, Doug, David and Jim for their contributions to the club,” said GM John Chayka. “They are all good people but we believe these changes are necessary in order to improve our organization. We wish them the best in the future.”

A longtime NHL assistant coach, Brown is perhaps the most prominent of the four men. He joined the Coyotes in the summer of 2013 and received high praise for his work with their power play.

But Arizona’s power play slipped to 26th this past season, converting at a rate of just 16.2 percent.

As for Soetaert, he was only named GM of the Roadrunners last summer. The former NHL goalie had previously been a scout.

Plenty of seats available for tonight’s game in Ottawa

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The Ottawa Senators say they’re still expecting a full house, but Ticketmaster’s website shows plenty of available seats for tonight’s second-round opener with the New York Rangers.

From the Ottawa Citizen:

Many of the available tickets for Thursday’s game were in the corners of the upper bowl, seats that carry a $96 price tag.

The Senators sold out all three games in the opening round of the playoffs against Boston. Game 1 drew a crowd of 18,702, while 18,629 showed up for Game 2 and 19,209 were in the seats for Game 5.

Attendance has been an issue in Ottawa — or, more specifically, suburban Kanata — all season, to the point owner Eugene Melnyk expressed great frustration with the lack of sellouts at Canadian Tire Centre.

Poor attendance also led to friction behind the scenes. At least, it sure sounded that way in the lawsuit that was filed against the team by its former chief marketing officer.

Poor attendance is why the Sens are trying to get a new downtown arena built. They believe that a more central location is the key to bigger crowds.

But regardless of the arena’s location, it won’t be a good look if there are empty seats tonight. This is the playoffs, and the Senators are one of eight remaining teams in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. The building should be full.

Related: Melnyk thinks Sens can make deep playoff run

McPhee won’t bring Stanley, Vegas’ lucky golden rooster, to draft lottery

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There’s no way any lede I write will do this Review-Journal anecdote justice, so yeah, just read it:

[Vegas GM George] McPhee still has his superstitions like any former athlete. But don’t expect him to be rubbing a rabbit’s foot or holding a bunch of 4-leaf clovers in his pocket.

And he decided to leave Stanley the Rooster home rather than try and explain to Canadian Customs officials why the gift given to the team by the Mandarin Oriental back in February during Chinese New Year should be allowed into the country as a good luck prop.

The draft lottery goes Saturday in Toronto, at 7:30 p.m. ET. Vegas won’t drop any lower than sixth and has a 10.3 percent shot at the No. 1 overall pick, behind Colorado (18 percent) and Vancouver (12.1 percent). Arizona also has a 10.3 percent chance at getting top spot.