Brad Marchand, P.K. Subban

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


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.

Bruins’ Paille suffers injury, won’t return on Sunday

Boston Bruins v New York Rangers

The Boston Bruins announced that winger Daniel Paille won’t return to Sunday’s game against the Florida Panthers with an undisclosed injury.

It’s believed that he suffered the issue from a hit into the boards by defenseman Ed Jovanovski, as Bruins announcer Jack Edwards notes.

Paille, 29, has scored 16 points in 56 games this season.

Stamkos sees tonight’s game vs. Bruins as key test

Steven Stamkos
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For months the Lightning eagerly awaited the return of Steven Stamkos. As it turned out, he came back at a dire time for Tampa Bay.

The team honored former captain Martin St. Louis’ request to be traded and have won just three of its last 11 games. The Lightning’s once comfortable hold on a playoff spot has been reduced to four points.

Stamkos couldn’t save them when they played the NHL-worst Buffalo Sabres in his first game back on Thursday. Now Tampa Bay has to face the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Bruins tonight.

“It doesn’t get much tougher than Boston coming in,” Stamkos said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “They’ve had our number lately. They’re extremely physical defensive team that can pounce on any mistakes that you make. This is a true character test for our team right now.”

As Stamkos touched on, the Bruins have a 3-0 series record against Tampa Bay in 2013-14. The Lightning’s struggles against Boston extend far beyond that though as they haven’t beaten them since March 13, 2012.

Maybe that means they’re due. Either way, they have to stop the bleeding before they’re reduced to playing catch up with mere weeks remaining.

Report: Bruins had deal in place for Edler, but Canucks blew it

Alex Edler

Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis has had a rough few days and if the latest report is true, perceptions won’t be getting any better.

Fluto Shinzawa of The Boston Globe reports the Canucks had a deal set to go with the Boston Bruins on trade deadline day that would’ve sent Alex Edler to the Bruins, but there was a hangup:

They were waiting for the Canucks to deal Ryan Kesler to Pittsburgh first.

As we know, that never happened. The Penguins’ deal for Kesler was reportedly for Brandon Sutter and draft picks, but the two sides couldn’t agree. According to Shinzawa, the Bruins were set to send either Ryan Spooner or Alexander Khoklachev and Matt Bartkowski to Vancouver for Edler.

If that deal sounds familiar, it’s essentially the same package they put together to try and land Jarome Iginla last season, a deal they were beat out for by the Penguins.

As it was, Shinzawa said the Bruins got Philadelphia to eat a lot of money on the Andrej Meszaros deal because they were looking to save cap space to acquire Edler. The Flyers have to be excited they did that now.

Gillis said at the conclusion of deadline day that they entertained many offers but none met their needs. Instead, the only deal the Canucks got done was the out-of-the-blue Roberto Luongo trade to Florida that signaled they were ready to blow things up and start over.

Instead, they’ve got a (likely) grumpy Kesler and now Edler stuck on a team that looks completely deflated. A 6-1 loss to Dallas last night showed that off.

If the Canucks can’t turn things around and crash into the postseason, it sets up the NHL Draft as their next opportunity to get things done. It’s never dull in Vancouver.

Holtby gets start versus Bruins, with Halak lurking

Braden Holtby

The day after getting pulled halfway through a 6-4 loss to Philadelphia, Braden Holtby will get another start in goal for the Capitals, this one tonight in Boston against the Bruins.

It’s a decision by coach Adam Oates that took some by surprise, especially given Washington’s acquisition of Jaroslav Halak yesterday. The Caps are in a desperate fight to make the playoffs, and currently they’re on the outside looking in.

“Hopefully we play better in front of Braden,” Oates said, per the Washington Post. “He had a good game [in Boston] a few days ago. The team played pretty solid that game as well. Hopefully we can draw on that and the second half of last night and have a good game.”

The Holtby-or-Halak storyline should be an interesting one to follow down the stretch. The fact the Caps haven’t missed the playoffs since 2007 will only add to the drama.

Related: Sabres say Neuvirth needs to ‘feel some love again’