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Boston @ Montreal

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
9:39 a.m.

Morning skate is at 11:30 a.m. and more than likely Our Boys are waking up to a hearty pregame brekkie in a lively corner of their hotel.

Despite Boston's recent issues with the bleu, blanc et rouge (with Boston having dropped eight in a row to the Habs, including five this season), Montreal is by no means overconfident about today's matchup.

The AP points out that "the Canadiens have the fewest home wins in the league, having lost nine of 12 at the Bell Centre to fall to 8-8-5 there for the season."

In fact, because of their own offensive woes, some Canadiens might have the trade deadline in the back of their heads.

The Montreal Gazette's Pat Hickey writes:
Kovalev...dismissed the trade rumors swirling around the team - he has been mentioned in some of them - by saying there's no sense in addressing trades until they are made.

Kovalev suggested that the decision to reunite the line of Christopher Higgins, Saku Koivu and Michael Ryder could be the spark the team needs as it tries to find a way to improve its 8-8-5 record on home ice.

"They're going to start playing together again and maybe they'll play better together and they'll be a successful line," Kovalev said. "If we start winning a few games, there won't be any trades."

The Canadian Press is also reporting that the Habs will have a different look coming into this evening's tilt and the once promising Michael Ryder, Saku Koivu, Chris Higgins line will be reunited.

The CP reports:
Surprises awaited at practice Monday, as Michael Ryder was removed from fourth-line purgatory and reunited with former linemates Saku Koivu and Chris Higgins, while Steve Begin was put back onto the game lineup after missing 19 games with a shoulder injury.

Ryder lost his job on what was once the team's top line due to a prolonged scoring slump. The two-time 30-goal scorer even sat out five games as a healthy scratch in December. He has only seven goals in 42 games this season.

''It's good to be back with those guys, especially when you've played with them for so long and have a little chemistry,'' said Ryder, who skated with Koivu and Higgins most of last season.

''You play with people so long, you get to know their tendencies. And I don't think being apart that long should affect anything.''  But Carbonneau said it was not so much that Ryder was out of the doghouse than it was that Koivu and Higgins have fallen into it.

Koivu has three goals in his last 28 games, while Higgins has three in his last 19.

Tonight's game is pivotal in terms of playoff positioning and pride. There is no reason to expect that either team will come out flat.

There is sure to be more news as the day progresses, so keep it here. JB

11:52 a.m.
It's an optional practice in Montreal this morning.

On the ice: Shawn Thornton, Chuck Kobasew, Mark Stuart, Milan Lucic, Petteri Nokelainen, Pascal Pelletier, Jeremy Reich, Dennis Wideman, Shane Hnidy, Phil Kessel, Andrew Ference, Vladimir Sobotka, David Krejci, Aaron Ward and Glen Metropolit.

Tim Thomas and Alex Auld were in net.

Awaiting more news...

12:50 p.m.
It's Alex Auld in goal tonight...

1:44 p.m.
As I passed people in the building a couple have asked me why the switch to Auld after two good games from Tim over the weekend?

I think the reason my lie in Tim's stats versus the Habs this season:
Season                      GPI Min  W  L T  OT  GA  SA  SO  GAA  Sv% 
2007-2008 vs. MTL  3  179  0  3  -   0  14  117  0  4.69  .880 

Checking the other blogs (Herald, Globe) nobody else has much insight into the decision, but Steve Controy of the Boston Herald mentions that the move may have been a move designed to change the "karma" or at least try something different as Tim is 0-3 against Montreal.

3:05 p.m.
I'll bet you that Tim Thomas feels better about not starting tonight... he was just named to the NHL All-Star Team. Check out the release here.

5:41 p.m.
I just got off the phone with Tim Thomas and if there was anyone who was more taken aback by a turn of events than "the Tank."

"I found out after practice this morning, for sure," said Tim. "I had actually heard that there might be a chance yesterday...they had to ask if I would be available.

"I said, 'Of course I would be available!'

"But I found out after practice today hasn't quite settled in yet," he said.

Like any good Bruin, Tim is focused on tonight's match up with Montreal and indicated that he really hasn't given himself the luxury of thinking too much about this weekend -- nor has the B's favorite chowhound eaten a celebratory cheeseburger.

"I haven't had the opportunity yet," said Tim. "I had a couple of extra pieces of raisin bread at pregame snack, though...that will have to do for now."

Lastly, Tim wanted me to be sure and thank Bruins fans for all of their support. JB

6:09 p.m is guessing that the Canadiens lineup will look like this:
A. Kostitsyn-Plekanec-Kovalev
S. Kostitsyn-Smolinski-Begin
Markov-Komisarek (sg)  Huet
Hamrlik-Streit (bg) Halak

6:46 p.m.
At, Fluto Shinzawa gives his guess on the B's lineup:
Chara-Wideman (sg)Auld
Stuart-Ward (bg)Thomas
Ference-Hnidy Go Bruins!

Not much to add, so I am heading over to the Running Recap! JB
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