The Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins will add another chapter to their storied rivalry as both teams renew hostilities ce soir at the TD BankNorth Gaa-den. Tonight’s game marks the 4th meeting between these two Northeast divisional teams this season with the Canadiens holding a 3-0 series lead going into tonight’s game.
Vezina trophy front-runner, Tim “The Toolman” Thomas is slated to start for the B’s. Thomas’ last outing vs. Les Canadiens was solid… for 58 minutes, until two soft goals sent both teams to the extra frame and Max Pacioretty sealed the deal (and a shove to Zdeno Chara) with his OT winner. Thomas’ comeback into the Bruins spotlight is nothing short of spectacular following what many feared to be, a career ending surgery at 36 years old to repair his hip. He has certainly earned his place atop the league as one of its elite netminders. Versus the Habs, not so much.
Thomas may a boast .945 save %, a sparkling 25-6-6 record with 7 shutouts this season; against the bleu, blanc, et rouge though, the numbers are not so flattering. Lifetime vs. Montreal, Thomas has a 8-14-4 record with an alarming 3.05 GAA and a .870 save % a far-cry from his squeaky clean numbers this season. Truth be told, has there ever been a goaltender in the Boston Bruins organization to have ever handled the Canadiens with relative ease? Other than Andy Moog (on a stacked Bruins team in the late-80’s early 90’s…hello…Cam Neely anyone?), I cannot, for the life of me, remember any Bruins goaltender having continued success against the Habs (including the playoffs) throughout his Bruins tenure. Not Dafoe (In the playoffs), not Raycroft (regular season and playoffs), not even the great Gerry Cheevers (The Lafleur goal comes to mind)!
As my good friend Anthony Di Domizio would say, “The Bruins goal crease is cursed, CURSED I tell you! The Bruins could have both goaltenders starting and they would still find a way to lose against the Habs.”
“The Chosen One” Carey Price will be Thomas’ rival tonight, Superman to his Lex Luther, Neo to his Agent Smith and so forth. Price has garnered a respectable 26-17-5 record this season and leads the NHL in wins. What’s more impressive is Price’s career record against the B’s. In 16 regular season games against Boston, #31’s record is an outstanding 12-2-2 with a .926 SV%. You have to love those numbers!
Speaking of numbers…The Canadiens are only two-points shy of surpassing the Bruins for the Northeast division lead and the #3 spot in the NHL’s Eastern Conference. The Habs have won 3 out of their last 5 games since the All-Star break and are 9-3-3 in 2011.
James Wisniewski should return to the Habs lineup tonight. The Wiz was battling the flu this past weekend. The Habs are 0-for-22 on the PP in their last 5 games and 3-for-10 on against the Bruins this year. The Habs would love to have #20 on the ice tonight to jump-start the Habs power play.
Tonight’s game will mark the 709th meeting between these two bitter rivals with the Habs holding a 342-257-103 lifetime record (Both regulation losses and Overtime/Shootout losses are lumped together).
I will provide highlights of tonight’s game via my tweeter-feed @JohnnyBertolo
Enjoy the game!