The Canadiens (35-24-7) are home to host the Atlantic leading Bruins (42-17-5) Wednesday night at the Bell Centre. The game is set to start at 7:30 and airs on RDS and TSN-Habs.
This is the third of four meeting between the Habs and Bruins, they'll meet again in Boston in less than two week to finish off the season series. The Canadiens have already beaten the Bruins twice in regulation, a 2-1 win in Montreal in December and a 4-1 win in Boston at the end of January. Max Pacioretty has goals in both games against Boston this year and Brendan Gallagher has 3 assists in the season series.
What to Watch:
Thomas Vanek has played two games as a Hab and is still looking for his first point with the team, but the former Sabre has 30 goals and 31 assists in 53 career games against the Bruins. The Canadiens struggled during their 4-game West Coast road trip, getting shut out in their last game and going 1-3-0 on the whole with their win coming in the shootout. With just 16 games left in the regular season, the team will look to bounce back strong against the Bruins.
Despite playing fewer games than anyone in the division, the Bruins have an 11 point cushion over second place as they look to clinch their fourth division title in the last 6 years. The team has won 5 straight and taken 11 of a possible 14 points since returning from the Olympic break. Vezina frontrunner Tuukka Rask has been a big part of the Bruins success. With 18 games remaining on the season, Rask has already seen more action this year than in his 6 prior season and responded by posting personal bests in wins (28), shut outs (6) and saves (1319).
What's at Stake:
Although there are points separating them in the standings, the Canadiens are essentially in a three-way tie with the Lightning and the Leafs in the race for second place in the Atlantic division. With 77 points in 66 games, the Canadiens are a point behind the Leafs who have played 67 games. The Lightning meanwhile trail both teams, they have 75 points in 65 games.
The Canadiens will get a little boost to their lineup on Wednesday, but not the one most fans are looking for. Brandon Prust (upper body) should be ready to return to action but Carey Price (lower body) was ruled out until at least this weekend. Michael Bournival (concussion) and Josh Gorges (hand) are also out.
The Bruins are missing Dennis Seidenberg (knee), Adam McQuaid (leg) and Daniel Paille (concussion).
It's been a difficult week in the hockey world culminating with the death of Terry Trafford, whose body was discovered Tuesday after he had been missing for eight days. Trafford played for the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL. Calgary Flames rookie Sean Monahan voiced his sympathy on Twitter:
Absolutely horrible news about Terry Trafford. Played with him and against in minor hockey. Great guy, prayers out to his familyCanadiens prospect Tim Bozon is battling meningitis and has been placed in a medically induced coma after his condition deteriorated rapidly. There has been no update on his condition since March 8.
— Sean Monahan (@Monahan20) March 11, 2014
Matt Stajan of the Flames and his wife Katie are dealing with the death of their newborn son, Emerson Stajan. The Flames forward has since taken a leave of absence from the team.
There was a scary moment in Dallas during the Stars - Blue Jackets game this week when Rich Peverley collapsed on the Stars bench. Thankfully, Peverley was swiftly tended to by the medical staff. He is now in stable condition and is undergoing tests to determine the exact cause of what has been called a cardiac incident.
The Question Mark:
Does Vanek earn his first point with the Habs tonight? How many points in a Canadiens uniform do you expect him to finish the season with?
Let us know what you think, leave a comment or send us a tweet by using the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter.
Be sure to tune into the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show an hour before the puck drop and the Post Game Show 5 minutes after the final siren. Join the live conversation by using the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter.