Montreal Canadiens v Boston Bruins

Bruins’ Brad Marchand not a big fan of the Montreal Canadiens

Tonight in Montreal is the first game between the Canadiens and the Boston Bruins since their fight-filled 8-6 Bruins victory back in February. It’s an original six rivalry that feels as old as time and seeing these two old rivals play the feud felt like good old fashioned old time hockey.

For Bruins rookie forward Brad Marchand, he’s picked up the torch of the rivalry and is running with it. Today, Marchand spoke with CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty and shared his thoughts about what he thinks of the Montreal Canadiens and how they play hockey. If you think things might go quietly tonight between the two teams, Marchand’s words might fire things up like gasoline on a fire.

“We have to not worry about them diving and chipping away at us,” said Marchand. “We just have to play physical and things will be all right.

“They like to get in and shoot their mouths off, and then when you hit them they dive down easy. They give a lot of shots behind the play, back of the legs and stuff like that. Then when we run them they play it off like they didn’t deserve it. It’s the kind of team they are. They’re pretty good at it.”

Marchand said much of what happened in February’s penalty-filled homage to “Slap Shot” was a result of Boston refusing to turn the other cheek at any of Montreal’s cheap shots, and instead forcing the normally evasive Les Habitants to pay for their crimes against hockey.

“It’s tough. It’s very frustrating. When you have a team like we do that’s big, tough and strong you don’t want to take any of it,” said Marchand. “I think that’s kind of what happened in the last game. Guys weren’t putting up with it, and I don’t think [the Canadiens] wanted to back down. That’s why things got so crazy. That’s what happens when you want to play that kind of game.”

Them’s fighting words. Yes, the irony that Marchand is fighting back with his words while picking on the Habs for running their mouths is there, but considering the physical beating the Bruins laid on Montreal last month, we’re not doubting his ability to fight back.

As for whether or not Marchand will seek payback on Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban for hitting him with a pair of brutal (but very legal) body checks, Marchand tells Haggerty that he’ll hit him if he gets the chance to but going out of his way to do so comes with a price in that Marchand has become a solid penalty killer for the Bruins. Getting booked for a reckless penalty hurts the Bruins in more than one way.

As for who Marchand puts the pressure on the most in tonight’s game, he says the focus is on the officials to make sure things don’t get hog wild the way they did last time around. More from Haggerty:

“If [the refs] don’t take control of it early in the game then things are going to get really chippy,” said Marchand. “We heard that they were a little upset about [Spacek] and Hamrlik getting into fights, but they willingly dropped the gloves. Nobody made them. [Gregory] Campbell didn’t want to get into a fight, but he did anyway.

“They threw the first punch. They stir the pot and they got what they deserve. It wasn’t our fault. They played into our hands. Whatever they’re mad about they can suck it up. It’s not our fault.”

It always takes two to tango.

We’re pretty sure the fans in Montreal will be busy letting him and the officials know how they feel tonight from Bell Centre.

So what now for P.K. Subban and the Montreal Canadiens?

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A lot of times, a savvy coach will pick the right time to use a healthy scratch to motivate a player by making him watch a game from the press box. This is an especially useful tactic with young players, particularly ones who might lack some perspective after jumping quickly to the NHL level.

Yet when it comes to the Montreal Canadiens and their talented (but some might say difficult) rookie P.K. Subban, some wonder if that lecture is dragging on a bit too long.

Canadiens coach Jacques Martin decided to make Subban a healthy scratch for the last three games, which would seem stunning out of context. Of course, the reason that Martin isn’t crazy for his stance is pretty simple: the Habs won all three of those contests without Subban.

Still, at some point, Subban is going to return. After all, Montreal fans were clamoring for his presence during a power play in the team’s last game (chanting “Peekay Peekay” according to All

(That’s not to say Subban has been an offensive machine, though, as his one goal and eight assists for nine points in 25 games is far from world-beating.)

Rick Stephens of All Habs considers who might need to go to make room for Subban, noting that it wouldn’t necessarily need to be a “one-size fits all” solution.

It would be a mistake to view the spot in the line-up as a competition between [Yannick] Weber and Subban. Yet, some will insist. Martin has even compared situation to Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak last season.

Some will incorrectly view the result as a success. In truth, as conceived by Martin, it is an archaic, destructive method of coaching which inevitably produces a casualty. A more progressive mind should be able to produce a win-win environment.

Picard seems to be the odd man out. He has mostly played above expectations but still suffers coverage lapses and offers little when the Canadiens have the man advantage. While he has filled in admirably, Picard is the logical candidate to head to the press box.

It is also an opportunity for coach Martin to use the defensive depth to provide an occasional day off for his veteran defenders. If framed properly, it could be positive not punitive and would ensure that players like Jaroslav Spacek, Hal Gill and Roman Hamrlik are paced for the long season.

Stephens’ idea to occasionally spell Spacek, Gill and Hamrlik is especially interesting. The Canadiens have been hit hard by injuries at times on their blueline, particularly to seemingly doomed offensive defenseman Andrei Markov. Gill and Hamrlik bring a veteran presence that is even more valuable once the team enters the tighter checking playoffs, so the team might be wise to keep them as fresh as possible.

Subban is a promising young player, but the problem is that he’s also keenly aware of that promise. It’ll be interesting to see if the blue chip blueliner will react well to this attempted injection of humility … whenever he gets the chance to come back, that is.

Montreal Canadiens waive winger Dustin Boyd


Much like fellow waiver wire victim Brian McGrattan in Ottawa, Montreal Canadiens winger Dustin Boyd shouldn’t be too surprised that he was waived today. That’s exactly what happened, though, according to TSN.

When you spend a handful of games as a healthy scratch – as Boyd did during the five-game period that went from October 22 to November 1 – it’s often just a matter of time before you get sent down to the minors. Any NHL team can claim the 24-year-old forward on waivers, but if no one claims him he’ll report to the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs.

Boyd is making only $650K on a one-year contract and will be a restricted free agent after this season, so if a team deems him to be a worthy investment, they can snatch him up at little cost.

The deeming him a worthy investment part might be a little tricky, though. That’s because he’s been a marginal player at best in Montreal, scoring only one goal while putting up a dismal -6 rating in nine games this season.

Montreal Canadiens target Friday or Saturday return for Andrei Markov


Good news out of Montreal, although it seems like things are still in the air a bit for valuable defenseman Andrei Markov. TSN has the word on the talented offensive defenseman’s injury status.

Andrei Markov was cleared for contact drills Monday and the club will seek final clearance from team doctors later this week. They are targeting Markov’s return for Friday or Saturday.

The most importance phrase in that paragraph is “the club will seek final clearance from team doctors later this week.” In other words, all that optimism could be for nothing if he doesn’t get the medical go-ahead.

Still, it’s been a long and bumpy road to recovery for Markov, who seems like he’s faced a lot of setbacks in the process. If nothing else, it sounds like the Russian blueliner can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The Canadiens could use his help, too, as they only converted one out of 24 power play chances so far this season after being one of the most efficient units during the 2009-10 season.

Brian Gionta named Montreal Canadiens captain

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briangionta2.jpgOne of the worst kept secrets in hockey this off-season has finally been revealed in Montreal today. The Canadiens announced that Brian Gionta will become the 28th captain in team history. Joining him as the lettered leaders of the team are defensemen Hal Gill and Andrei Markov who will both wear the “A” this season.

Gionta is one of the more experienced vets on the team and certainly one of their leaders on offense. What makes the choice of Gionta a bit more interesting is that he’s an American. The last American to captain the Canadiens was Chris Chelios back in 1989-1990 when he co-captained the team with Guy Carbonneau.

With any other team, where the player comes from isn’t a big deal but things are a little bit different in Montreal. Should times get tough during the season, having an American leading the team, no matter how much effort they put in to learning French to handle the home press, will become an issue for the overzealous part of the Habs fanbase. No, the entire fanbase isn’t overzealous.

With naming Gionta captain, the official grieving period over Saku Koivu leaving Montreal for Anaheim appears to be over. Scott Gomez is wearing his old number 11 and now Gionta is the team captain. This situation nearly lasted as long as the Habs’ centennial celebration. Thankfully, the team has moved on from that in time to have the Ducks come to Montreal this season, things would’ve gotten awkward otherwise.