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Lineup changes aplenty for Montreal after snapping Boston’s win streak

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The Montreal Canadiens will ice a decidedly different-looking team from the one that snapped Boston’s 12-game winning streak on Monday.

The two forwards injured by Bruins d-man Kevan Miller — Travis Moen and Dale Weise — are out for tonight’s game against Buffalo, replaced by Lars Eller and Ryan White. On defense, Jarred Tinordi will return from his stint as a healthy scratch and suit up — at the expense of veteran Francis Bouillon, who’ll sit.

In goal, Carey Price will get the start after Peter Budaj was brilliant in stopping 28 of 29 shots against Boston.

These certainly are interesting times for the Habs. With Moen, Weise and Brandon Prust out of the lineup — Prust was lost for the remainder of the regular season last week with an upper-body injury — the team definitely lacks some grit and toughness in its bottom-six forward group, something that’s historically been an issue given the lack of size among the top-six.

That said, the club has shown some major resiliency lately.

Montreal has won five of six after a tough stretch from Mar. 3-12, where they lost three of four during a Western road swing through L.A., Anaheim, Phoenix and San Jose. The Habs then returned home for a listless 4-1 loss to Boston, which seemed to provide a spark — since then, Montreal’s racked up wins over Ottawa, Colorado, Buffalo, Toronto and Boston to draw even with Tampa Bay on points (87) in the Atlantic Division.

 

 

Bruins’ Lucic calls Canadiens’ Emelin ‘a chicken’

Montreal Canadiens v Boston Bruins
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Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic unleashed on Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin – but not with his fists.

Lucic had some strong words for Emelin following Monday’s heated match-up between the two Original Six rivals, which was won in the shootout by the Canadiens.

Lucic took issue with a hip check Emelin threw on him in the first period, drawing a response from Zdeno Chara. And Lucic didn’t hold back his feelings of the hit, or Emelin.

“Whether it’s fair, legal or whatever you want to call it, if he wasn’t scared, he would stand up and hit me and not go after my knees,” Lucic said, as per ESPN Boston.

“It just shows how big of a chicken he is that he needs to go down like that to take me down. It shows what kind of player he is, and on my end, you know you’ve got to keep your guard up at all times.”

Later in the game, it appeared Lucic caught Emelin with a spear, however he denied that.

There was another incident in the first period, in which two members of the Canadiens were hurt. Forward Dale Weise was hurt on a hit from Bruins’ Kevan Miller, who was called for cross checking on the play. Habs’ forward Travis Moen stepped in to fight Miller, but was knocked to the ice after taking a punch to the side of the head.

“I hope [Weise] is all right — both those guys. To be honest with you about the hit, I felt bad about it. I just kind of bumped into him,” Miller told CSNNE.com.

“I think he was a little off balance. I stood there just trying to make sure he was okay for a second, and Moen asked if I wanted to go. I just hope they’re both okay.”

Video: Hard-hitting game between Bruins and Canadiens

Montreal Canadiens v Boston Bruins
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As is typically the case, the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens were involved in another feisty contest. The visiting Habs came away with the two points, defeating their Original Six rival 2-1 in the shootout and stopping the Bruins’ winning streak at 12 games.

The bad blood between these teams started brewing early.

Canadiens’ defenseman Alexei Emelin caught Bruins’ power forward Milan Lucic with a hip check in the first period, initiating a reaction from Zdeno Chara, who was called for roughing.

As per Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com, Lucic called Emelin a “chicken” for the hip check after the game.

Now, here is the open-ice neutral zone hit from Canadiens defenseman Mike Weaver on Bruins’ forward Dan Paille in the second period.

Despite these two big hits from the Canadiens, it was the Bruins that led the way with 36 registered hits to Montreal’s 24.

There was also a case of Lucic apparently spearing Emelin late in the third period. That can be viewed by clicking on this link.

Get your game notes: Canadiens at Bruins

Milan Lucic, David Krejci
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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Boston Bruins hosting the Montreal Canadiens starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• Tonight marks the 895th all-time meeting between Boston and Montreal, regular season and playoffs (the most meetings between any two teams in NHL history). The Canadiens had won five straight regular-season meetings in the series, until the Bruins defeated the Canadiens on Mar. 12 in Montreal by a 4-1 margin. The B’s got a combined four points from their second line (Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Reilly Smith) and 35 saves by goaltender Tuukka Rask in the win.

• The Bruins enter tonight’s game having won 12 games in a row, all but one of which were settled in regulation. It is their longest win streak since a 13-game run in 1970-71, and two shy of the franchise record set in 1929-30 (14). If they defeat the Canadiens tonight, they can tie the franchise mark on Thursday evening at TD Garden against the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks.

• Bruins winger Jarome Iginla has been on fire in March, with an NHL-high 11 goals in the month, including seven goals in his last five games. On Saturday, the 36-year-old scored his 557th and 558th career NHL goals, leaving him only two goals shy of Guy Lafleur (560 goals) for 24th all-time. Lafleur scored all but 42 of his goals with the Canadiens, winning five Stanley Cups from 1971-85.

• Canadiens winger Thomas Vanek has four goals since being acquired from the Islanders at the March 5 trade deadline. On Mar. 18 vs. Colorado, Vanek became the first player to score his first three goals as a Canadien in the same game since Alex Smart did so in his NHL debut on Jan. 14, 1943. Vanek also joined Minnesota’s Matt Moulson in scoring goals for three different teams this season (Vanek: BUF, NYI, MTL – Moulson: NYI, BUF, MIN), a feat no player had accomplished since Pascal Dupuis (MIN, NYR, ATL) and Alexei Zhitnik (NYI, PHI, ATL) in 2006-07.

• Before the Bruins’ current win streak, head coach Claude Julien sat one win shy of Jack Adams (DET, 413 wins, 1927-47) for 29th on the all-time wins list. 12 wins later, Julien has solidified his candidacy for the Jack Adams Award, given to the top coach as selected by the NHL Broadcasters Association. If victorious, Julien (who won the award in 2008-09) would become the first two-time winner since former Canadiens great Jacques Lemaire (1993-94, with New Jersey; 2002-03, with Minnesota.)

• Since Julien took over before the 2007-08 season, the Bruins defense has been the stingiest in the NHL, allowing 1,275 goals in 529 games (2.41 goals/game). During that span, they have allowed two or fewer goals in 296 games (most in the NHL) and five or more in only 48 (fewest in the NHL).

• Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is 7-0-0, with a 1.55 GAA, .946 save% and a shutout during the 12-game win streak. Together with backup Chad Johnson (5-0-0, 1.20 GAA, .954 save%, shutout), the Bruins netminders have allowed two or fewer goals in 10 of the 12 wins.

• Since Mar. 15, Canadiens goaltender Carey Price is 3-1-0 with a 3.28 GAA and .906 save%, following his 5-0-0, 0.59 GAA, .972 save% performance in Canada’s run to gold at the Sochi Olympics. Price has played in and won more games against the Bruins than any other NHL team, posting a career 17-8-3 record with a 2.50 GAA and .919 save% in 29 games vs. Boston – though he has not won at Boston since Oct. 27, 2011 (0-2, with one no-decision since then).

• In 11 games this month, the Canadiens have been assessed 193 penalty minutes, and their opponents have been assessed 187 penalty minutes, both NHL-highs for March. The Habs have gone 7/44 on the power play (15.9%, T-18th in the NHL for March) and 37/42 on the penalty kill (88.1%, T-6th).

NHL on NBCSN: Canadiens looking to end Bruins’ 12-game win streak

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

It’s hard not to talk about the Bruins these days and not wonder about the 12-game winning streak they’re riding into Monday night’s game against the Canadiens.

Boston has been a force of nature in a less-than impressive Eastern Conference this season, and the might they’re flexing lately has shown off all the reasons why they have to be the favorites to wind up in the Stanley Cup Final.

They’re tough defensively, even without key players, and that’s much in part because of the play of Zdeno Chara. Their goaltending has proven to be dynamite through this run as well allowing 17 goals during the streak and putting up two shutouts. Tuukka Rask and Chad Johnson have had a strong season together with Rask being a Vezina candidate.

Then there’s the offense which has lately seen the renaissance of Jarome Iginla. He leads the team in goals with 28 and has 11 goals during the winning streak. After looking a bit off last season with Calgary and Pittsburgh, he’s looking like the Iginla of old. Having him be a factor with the rest of the team doing their usual thing just makes them that more dangerous.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $1,500 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday’s late NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $350. Starts Monday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

The Canadiens have an air of desperation about them. For as comfortable as the Bruins are, the Habs are not. With 85 points they’re one point back of Tampa Bay for second in the Atlantic and five points ahead of Detroit and Toronto. A loss means opening the door for either of those teams to catch up with them and make the playoff race that much more interesting.

Montreal would rather zero in on trying to get home ice in the first round against the Lightning and the play of Thomas Vanek and Max Pacioretty of late is helping that out. Vanek had a hat trick against Colorado last Tuesday and has fit in well on the team’s top line. Pacioretty, meanwhile, has one goal and five points in the past five games.

The real star of late though is P.K. Subban who heads into the game with two goals and 11 points in the past 11 games. His offense from the back end and the way he manages to always draw a crowd provides a spark for the Canadiens. With Carey Price still getting back into the routine after missing time following the Olympics, he’ll have his hands full with the Bruins.