The Bruins embark on their longest road trip of the season, stretching over the next 11 days and are hoping to start it off with a ‘W’ in their column against the Montreal Canadiens tonight. The Bruins are coming off of a shutout loss to the New York Rangers last night at the TD Garden where they produced 42 shots on net, but still came up short.
The Bruins problem as of late seems to be playing as a team, a whole unit. Each individual has had their own shining moments from Milan Lucic netting the tie-goal against the Nashville Predators sending them into overtime, to Tyler Seguin creating opportunity after opportunity last night against the Rangers. However, it is going to take a full sixty minute effort from each and every one of the Bruins if they want to get out of this funk. Claude Julien said;
“We’re a checking team that scores, but right now, we’re not checking and we’re not scoring. We’ve got to get back to checking, and checking is playing a lot harder, winning battles, and being really hard to score against, and when you do that, then teams get frustrated like we did tonight, make a few mistakes, and it ends up in the net…Teams have had to battle their way out,” he added. “That’s what we’re going to have to do.” (via Bruins Official Site)
In the last ten games the Bruins are 4-5-1 against Montreal’s 6-4-0 record. This will be the sixth and final match-up of the two rivalry teams in the regular season. The Bruins have won three of the five match-ups, including a 2-1 victory at the TD Garden on January 12.
While the Bruins aren’t exactly on a ‘hot streak’ right now, the Canadiens are feeling the pressure more than ever. Despite efforts from their Catholic Churches trying their hardest to pull them out of their funk, they still sit 12th in the Conference and 1point out of last in the NorthEast Division. Their five-game win streak came to a halt on Monday night as Eric Staal scored twice and added an assist in their 5-3 loss against the Hurricanes. With Toronto also losing to Calgary on Tuesday night, that leaves Montreal 7points out of the eighth and final play-off spot in the East. While they are stacked with injuries and the emotions are running high, forward Rene Bourque is a force to be reckoned with totaling 30 points this season, as well as Eric Cole who has scored in back-to-back games and Max Pacioretty having 4 goals in his last three games.
For the Bruins center Patrice Bergeron has managed to post a goal and three assists in his last five games. While David Krejci has been in a slump of his own, the forward managed to get 5 shots on net last night and showed glimpses that his ‘David Downer’ may be coming to a halt.
The Bruins do not have a practice scheduled for this morning, there is not likely to be any leisure time before tonight’s match-up. They are still in a search for their key word: consistency, which they have lacked for the better part of February. As captain Zdeno Chara put it:
“We just kind of like get going then we lose a game again, which causes a little break in that momentum,” added Chara. “Again, we won and we lost one again, so we need to put some wins together.”(via Bruins Official Site)
They need to find a way to get everyone involved and get that momentum back. With the lines being so inconsistent as of late, due to the indefinite injury of Nathan Horton, the lack of focus from Krejci and recalls from Providence, they need to create some sort of stability. With recent recalls Joshua Hennessy and Andrew Bodnarchuk, the lines are not expected to change, but could at any given moment. Both men have been practicing with the team, but have yet to stay suited for game time. While line changes haven’t proven to be a positive or a negative for the Bruins, throwing in two new guys doesn’t seem like the right answer. Guys like Benoit Pouliot and Joe Corvo need to step up to the plate and begin making their presence known.
While Montreal has proven to be a challenge for Pouliot in the last few contests, he’s been invisible as of late and needs to make himself noticeable. He needs to be charging the net and making his presence known so he can chip away at the rebounds and bang them in. Tonight he is going to need to keep his emotions in check and not let the Canadiens get under his skin.
Tonight’s match-up will undoubtedly be a bitter rivalry as both teams are fresh off a loss and looking to better their seasons. Tune in to NBC Sports Network at 7pm EST to watch how the Original Six Rivalry unfolds.