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Bruins aim to make a splash against the Canadiens

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  March 27, 2013 10:10 AM

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If you missed the diving competition show on ABC Tuesday night, don’t fret. There should be plenty more plunges to catch on NESN Wednesday night.

It has been twenty-four days since the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens have tangled, a 4-3 win by Montreal on March 3 that ended with Bruins coach Claude Julien calling out the Habs for their embellishing ways, and Montreal’s Max Pacioretty labeling the Bruins “jealous” over looking up at them in the standings. Since then, the Bruins have gone 7-4-1 through their knit-tight March schedule. The Canadiens have gone 6-3-1, including a 1-0 loss to the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night that allowed the 21-7-3 Bruins to sneak past 20-7-5 Montreal for the Northeast Division lead.

Indeed, jealously is on the line.

Oh, what sorts of antics will Les Habitants bring to the rink this time around? Will it be PK Subban doing his best Nicole Eggert impression? Is Alexei Emelin up for another cheap shot on Tyler Seguin, or did the hulking response from Zdeno Chara moot that a one-time infraction? Will the referees recall Julien’s comments after the loss earlier this month and keep a closer eye on any possible ornamentation on the Canadiens’ part?

Don’t bet on it. Much as was the case earlier this month, the Canadiens still lead the NHL in power play opportunities with 139, eight more than the Detroit Red Wings despite having played one fewer game. The Bruins, with 86 opportunities, are dead-last in the league. In the 12 games since these two last met, Boston has had 27 power play opportunities. Montreal has had 39 in 10 games.

"This is embarrassing for our game, the embellishing,” Julien said following his team’s loss to Montreal on March 3. "Right now, they’ve got over 100 power plays so far. It’s pretty obvious why. We’re trying to clean that out of our game. It’s got to be done soon. Because it’s not about tonight. It’s about the game. The embellishment embarrasses our game. We’ve got to be better about that. It’s pretty obvious when P.K. [Subban] gets hit, he throws himself into the glass and holds his head. You know what? We start calling those things for embellishment, maybe teams stop doing it. Until we take charge that, it’s going to be an issue.”

Yet, since that speech, the Canadiens have garnered an average of 3.9 power plays per game compared to the Bruins’ 2.25. Bottom line, expect the Canadiens to be the Canadiens Wednesday night at the Garden.

This is where Monday’s shootout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs comes into such importance. Had the Bruins fell in that game, a contest in which they battled back from an 0-2 deficit, the Canadiens would come in with Boston having dropped four of its last five, with even more questions lingering as we hurtle toward next Wednesday’s NHL trading deadline. The Bruins still need more scoring prowess and a healthy defensive corps if they hope to go deep into the playoffs, especially the way the Penguins, winners of 13 straight, appear to be taking charge of the East both on the ice and the transaction wire.

On that note, however, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli went on 98.5 The Sports Hub this morning, and said no way, no how, will the team be trading goalie prospect Malcolm Subban, perhaps thought to be a key ingredient in any pursuit of Calgary captain Jarome Iginla.

“I could tell you this, I’m not trading Malcolm Subban,” Chiarelli said. “He’s young, a very good goalie prospect and I see him being a big part of our future. We have some goalie depth, but I can tell you I’m not trading Malcolm Subban.”

So, there’s that. Maybe. We’ll see in a week if Chiarelli may have been posturing.

Wednesday night’s matchup against the Canadiens would have been a nice spot for Iginla to immerse himself in Boston-Montreal hockey culture. What better way would there have been for him to be introduced to the intensity of this rivalry, both teams coming into the game with 45 points and even more chips on their shoulders? The two teams meet for the final time in Montreal on April 6, and whether or not Iginla is in tow with Boston, the Bruins should have at least some new pieces to play with.

Only 17 games remain in this shortened regular season, and few will be as important or as entertaining as the remaining pair against the Canadiens, and tilts against Ottawa and Pittsburgh. There’s no team Bruins fans love to hate more than the Habs, who bring their gutless style of hockey to the Garden Wednesday, served with a fine whine.

As far as reality shows are concerned, the most intriguing thing about ABC’s “Splash” is how a celebrity diving show this bad ever made it to the air in the first place, never mind Louie Anderson’s presence. But having a terrible premise hasn’t stopped the networks from airing the product before.

Nor has it stopped the Montreal Canadiens.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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