The Canadiens are on Causeway Street this evening to face the Bruins, renewing one of the game’s greatest rivalries.
The Habs cashiered coach Jacques Martin on Saturday and replaced him with ex-Forever .500 winger Randy Cunneyworth, prior to losing to the Devils, 5-3, at the Bell Centre. If the playoffs were to begin today, the Habs would be on vacation, a post-season DNQ for the first time since 2007.
The Bruins are awaiting word on whether Milan Lucic will be available for tonight’s action. He has a hearing today with Brendan Shanahan (@NHLShanahan), the legue’s chief disciplinarian, for his hit from behind on the Flyers’ Zac Rinaldo during Boston’s 6-0 win at Philly Saturday afternoon.
The Bruins have won four straight games and have only lost two games in regulation since the end of November. They are 18-2-1 over the last six weeks, banking 84.1 percent of the 44 points to be had in those 21 games. As of today, they are tied for first with Philly in the Eastern Conference (each with 43 points) and tied for third in the league’s overall standings.
Along with being uncertain about Lucic’s availability, the Bruins also don’t know if Greg Campbell or Rich Peverley, each nursing niggling injuries, will be suitable for action. For the latter two, their availabilities might not be known until after the pre-game warmup. All of which makes the projected lineup listed below only a matter a guesswork.
Puck drop: 7:05 p.m. EST
Record: Bruins, 21-9-1; Canadiens, 13-13-7.
TV/radio info: NESN (Jack Edwards, Andy Brickley, Naoko Funayama), 98.5 The Sports Hub (Dave Goucher, Bob Beers)
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot-Chris Kelly-Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille-Greg Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid
Scratches: Jordan Caron, Steve Kamper, Zach Hamill
Storylines: Head coach Claude Julien made Boston’s morning workout optional. Tuukka Rask was among the handful of Bruins who skated, while most of the players loosened up by kicking a soccer ball around the hallway outside the dressing room. Given that Rask was on the ice, it’s likely that Tim Thomas (15-5-0) gets the start against Carey Price (12-10-7)….Following tonight, the Bruins play only once more this week, facing the Panthers at the Garden on Friday night before going on Christmas break. Their first game back after the holiday is Dec. 28 in Phoenix….The Bruins went 4-1-0 around the Christmas break last season and only had a minor slump, 1-4-0 in February, over the remainder of the season….The Bruins have outscored the opposition, 19-5, over the four-game win streak and also have gone a sizzling 6-for-17 on the power play. The needed bump on the man-advantage has moved them to No. 9 overall in the league at 19 percent efficiency. They are third overall (88.5) in penalty killing, behind only the Devils and Canadiens. The Habs are a lowly 28th on the power play, connecting at only 12.5 percent. Lafleur weeps…Tonight’s guys in stripes: referees Paul Devorski and Rob Martell; linesmen Pierre Champoux and Bryan Pancich.