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Rivalry Night on NBCSN: Canadiens, Bruins look to break Northeast tie

Mar 27, 2013, 8:04 AM EDT

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 3: Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins lets in a goal against the Montreal Canadiens at the TD Garden on March 3, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images) Getty Images

Throughout the season, NBCSN will feature the NHL’s fiercest rivalries on Wednesday nights. Tonight the Montreal Canadiens will head to TD Garden for a match against the Boston Bruins at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The Bruins and Canadiens have spent the better part of the season battling for the Northeast Division title and that battle is far from resolved. Going into tonight’s contest, the two teams are tied with 45 points, although Montreal has played in one more game than Boston.

Both of these teams have gotten this far thanks to solid defense, strong goaltending, and an offensive core that’s shown its depth this season.

The fact that Boston is in this race isn’t much of a surprise. There was some concern that goaltender Tuukka Rask might not be able to seamlessly assume Tim Thomas‘ starting duties, but after serving as a strong backup for years, Rask’s 2013 performance can’t be considered a shock.

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Instead, the Canadiens are the Cinderella story. They’ve benefited from the emergence of rookies Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher, but when the season started, their core wasn’t dramatically different than the one that finished in the basement of the Eastern Conference in 2011-12.

Perhaps the biggest difference has been behind the bench, where Michel Therrien is now running the show. Under him, the Canadiens have gone from one of the worst power-play teams in the NHL to one of the best. Of course, having a finally healthy Andrei Markov join P.K. Subban as the team’s top two blueliners with the man advantage helps too.

Not many teams in the league can afford to take penalties against the Canadiens, but if there’s one that can endure, it’s Boston. The Bruins have a league-leading 91.7 penalty killing percentage.

These two teams have played each other twice this season and both contests were decided by a goal. It wouldn’t be surprising if tonight’s game ended up being just as close.

Probable goaltenders: BOS – Rask (15-4-3, 1.90 GAA, .928 SV%) | MON – Peter Budaj (4-1-1, 2.47 GAA, .903 SV%)

Top scorers: BOS – Patrice Bergeron (9-18-27, 31 GP) | MON – Max Pacioretty (9-16-25, 28 GP)

Notable Injuries:
Boston – Forwards: Chris Kelly (leg), Marc Savard (concussion) Defenseman: Adam McQuaid (shoulder), Johnny Boychuk (foot)
Montreal – Forwards: Brandon Prust (shoulder), Ryan White (lower body), Rene Bourque (concussion) Defenseman: Yannick Weber (knee), Raphael Diaz (concussion)

  1. bekay19 - Mar 27, 2013 at 8:32 AM

    Playoff type game here… Late March battle for 1st place in the Northeast. Can wait to see how many times Subban face plants into the glass…

  2. theblakfox - Mar 27, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    so excited to watch the best rivalry in sports!

    lets just hope habsmann keeps his mouth shut on this post, and for the rest of his life

  3. broadstbully33 - Mar 27, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    Best rivalry in sports? Don’t get carried away bud.

    • nhloon - Mar 27, 2013 at 10:46 AM

      It is the best rivalry in North American sports aside from Red Sox Yankess you pud.

      • jpelle82 - Mar 27, 2013 at 11:28 AM

        best rivalry in hockey yes, all of sports no

  4. jpelle82 - Mar 27, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    last night was dress rehearsal for subban last night…fell on crosby’s stick, stumbled and fell after morrow bumped him behind the net…should be ready to go for his 3rd act vs boston

  5. jacketsfan7 - Mar 27, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    Habs played the pens and got shutout 1-0 , they played really hard , they have to be tired , big b’s better make a win out of this game , if not they’ll only have themselves to blame

  6. mclovinhockey - Mar 27, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    I’d say its one the best in the sport… Maybe not in sports overall but this just out does flyers pens due to how long this one has been going on.

    • govtminion - Mar 27, 2013 at 10:25 AM

      Well, that and the fact that this rivalry features goaltending. Judging by the box scores the past couple of years, the Pens and Flyers tie their goalies up and leave them in a closet when they play each other. (Granted, it makes for some fun games to watch!)

      This one is going to be fun tonight, one of those games where I’ll even set aside my Bruins fan-dom for the evening and just be happy I get to watch such a great game.

  7. nunan - Mar 27, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    I want the Bs to win but I think the REAL Bruins won’t show up until the deadline has past, the roster is solidified, and they get some hurt guys back. There is a lot of shuffling going on right now, especially with the third line changing every game, never-mind the fact that they’ve been mediocre the past few weeks anyways. I just want them to get through this tough stretch they’ve been in relatively intact and in strong playoff position. They’ll hit their groove eventually just not sure it happens tonight. Will be more of a gritty game vs any real show of strength from them.

  8. dolanster - Mar 27, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    Why is Budaj ‘probable’ for tonight? Really?

    • valoisvipers - Mar 27, 2013 at 3:30 PM

      Price played and lost last night.

  9. 8man - Mar 27, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    The magnitude of this game reminds me of how it was in the ’70s between these two franchises. Great stuff. It’s a treat and thankfully, for those who don’t have Center Ice, NBCSN is willing to show it. Hope the ratings are huge.

    • imleftcoast - Mar 27, 2013 at 3:39 PM

      It is like the seventies. Finesse and talent versus brawn, lack of brains and favoritism from the refs.

  10. thehighcountrybear - Mar 27, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    Should be a great one!

    Yesssss, the teams are the same as the teams from the seventies, but there’s no comparison in speed, sorry girls!

    The great advantage of DVR technology, other than being able to nuke the endless succession of five minute commercial breaks, is the viewer can replay eastern conference games at double speed…

    Then, said viewer can pretend he’s tripping back in time, or watching a western conference game in the here and now?

    Good news for the east, Red Wings are coming back [ Wir fahr’n fahr’n fahr’n auf der Autobahn ]! Look forward to real hockey, look forward to eastern conference team owners and managers dragging themselves out of the caves and returning to the contemporary, speed hockey played out west.

    Look forward to the Wings…

  11. sabatimus - Mar 27, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    PK Subban a little earlier grabbed Marchand’s stick and deliberately high-sticked himself with it. Marchand got the penalty because the refs are idiots. And Subban is a disgusting player.

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