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B's, Habs to Battle for First Place...Again

by Eric Russo / Boston Bruins

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WILMINGTON, MA – Saturday night’s showdown between the Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens is the fourth – and final – meeting of the season. As were the three previous match-ups this season, the game will be a battle for first place in the Northeast Division, with the Bruins having a chance to take over the top spot with a win.

Currently, the Black & Gold trail the Canadiens by one point in the standings (Montreal has 53 to the Bruins’ 52). All three games the teams have played this season have been decided by one goal, with Montreal winning the last two games, both in Boston, by overcoming third period deficits in each, to win 4-3 and 6-5. The B’s won the season’s first match-up in Montreal, 2-1.

With both teams charging towards the playoffs and a Northeast Division championship, the rivalry is at it’s most intense level. But, B’s Head Coach Claude Julien says no matter what the situation is when these two team face off, it’s always action-packed.

“I don't think it is any different,” said Julien, when asked if the team’s battling for first place changes the rivalry. “I think, to me, it's been exciting every game we've played – we’ve played for the top spot. It's no different tomorrow, so it's going to be a good game.”

The Boston-Montreal feud will have a bit of a different look on Saturday night at Bell Centre. B’s Newcomers Jaromir Jagr, Kaspars Daugavins, and Wade Redden will be getting their first taste of the age-old rivalry.

The B’s newest defenseman, Wade Redden, knows Saturday's game will be intense, whether he's in the lineup with his new team or not.

“I've watched it for years,” he said. “It's two top teams in the division right now, battling it out. So it's a lot on the line. It just adds to the whole tradition that's there already.”

"You don't get any bigger rivalry, that's for sure."

Jagr, who scored in his Bruins’ debut on Thursday night at TD Garden en route to the 1-0 shutout of the Devils, knows the gravity of what is on the line in tomorrow night’s game.

“Every game is going to be like a playoff game,” said Jagr following practice Friday morning at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington. “We found that out [Thursday against New Jersey]. Every point is so important, it's even more important for team's that are fighting for the playoffs for the eighth or seventh spot.

“For us, we want to try to be in first place, so it's going to be a huge game. You want to get ready for the playoffs with games like that.”

Daugavins has been the closest of the three Bruins’ newcomers to the rivalry, having played with another division rival, the Ottawa Senators, for the past few seasons. The ‘Daug Man,’ as his teammates refer to him, saw Montreal’s 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night, and knows how difficult the Habs are to play against.

“Every game against teams in the Original Six are always tough,” said Daugavins. “I saw the game last night that they played, it's a battle for every inch of the ice. It's going to be hard, but obviously we can do it.”

Johnny Boychuk, a veteran member of the Boston-Montreal rivalry, talked about the aura around these games and believes, with first place on the line, there will be some added buzz.

“It will definitely put some fuel there,” said Boychuk on the battle for first place. “They're a really good team in first place right now. It's a challenge for us and it's going to be a good game.

“It's always a good game, no matter if you're in Boston or Montreal. We both play extremely hard against each other and it's always a good game. Every time we are in Montreal or Boston, the fans are always as loud as they can be, so it's a fun game to be in.”

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