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Game Day: Canadiens vs. Bruins

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room.
After the game, Head Coach Claude Julien spoke about Shawn Thornton's early goal and it's importance to the win.

"It was certainly a good way to start because we've always seemed to be behind the eight-ball with this team," said Julien. "And to get the lead that early was nice.

"Sometimes you need a break, and we got it."
0:00 - Bruins win, 6-1. Boston is in first! That was 27 saves for Fernandez. He's 4-1-1. More in a bit.

30.0 - Standing "O" from the crowd.

54.8 - Price scoops a Thornton try.

1:17 - A save by Fernandez.

3:25 - "Hey, hey, hey, goodbye" is being sung by the Boston faithful.

4:40 - Back down by the B's locker room.

9:23 - I am going to head to the locker room. I want to try and get as much as possible...brb.

10:23 - Boston keeps on coming. Price makes a save. Shots are 29-20, Boston.

11:16 - Yelle scores. Clean on a slapshot as he traveled down the right side. 6-1. This, my friends, is a long time coming.

12:35 - Holy Cow! Lucic and Komisarek just had a big battle, with Luch the decisive victor. He ended the fight with a huge punch and got up screaming and yelling to the crowd -- pumped beyond belief. Unbelievable. He waves to the crowd and gets this place hopping!

13:23 - Icing Boston.

15:18 - Lucic scores and gives a big fist pump to the crowd. A faceoff win by Kessel and Luch moved forward and smacked the puck by Price. 5-1. Boston. Shots are 26-20, Boston.

15:21 - I count at least 16 near misses by the B's, who had the puck in the zone for quite a while. An exaggeration, but not by much.

16:49  - Two point blank saves by Fernandez. He held the fort until the net came off the moorings.

17:26 - Fernandez makes another save, this time with Latendresse on the doorstep. He and Stuart exchange shoves.

18:10 - Lucic should get credit for at least two hits on that shift.

18:36 - Save Fernandez, on Plekanec.

19:58 - Bergeron wins the faceoff.

20:00 - Start of the Third. Boston just needs to dial up the intensity a notch...
0:00 - Boston held on. Time to regroup. The B's could have a much larger lead, but seemed to get away from their systems. Montreal is still the fresher team and by the end of the third period there's no doubt that the Bruins are going to be feeling some fatigue. Shots are 19-17, Boston.

1:05 - It looked like at least a couple of saves down low for Fernandez on Higgins.

1:48 - Save Fernandez. With a nice clear by a Boston defender.

2:03 - It wasn't bad, but it was a slash. Savard in the box.

4:16 - Neither team is in sync at this point. Very slow goings, right now.

5:47 - Save Fernandez, through traffic.

5:54 - Hnidy, Axelsson, Dandenault and Laraque are all tied up in front of the B's net. Nothing big, but perhaps Big Georges is on the prowl.

6:26 - Simply put. A sloppy play. Saku Koivu did what he always does -- make the most of what he had. And he had a clear lane to the net, a bobble and an open side. 4-1. Boston.

6:58 - Shots are 18-10, Boston.

8:34 - The Boston fans are singing the "Ole, ole, ole, ole" song. That's a first.

10:03 - In a fight for the puck with Kessel, Bouillon sends it into the stands. PP, Boston.

11:06 - Another icing for Montreal.

11:48 - A sneaky shot by Bergeron, along the goal line, handcuffs Price, but he hangs on.

12:40 - Icing Montreal.

13:06 - All Boston at this point.

16:16 - Play this number 161616. Marco Sturm picked put a pinballing puck by Price. 4-0, Boston. How about that True Believers? The B's are two-for-three on the PP.

16:29 - I've never actually seen this - Price played the puck in the "forbidden zone" and got a penalty. Wow.

17:39 - On the PP, Bergeron fires a slapshot which goes high and that Price catches baseball style, right in front of his face.

19:02 - Bouillon in the box for holding.

19:54 - Montreal controls the faceoff and gets a quick shot on Fernandez.

20:00 - Start of the Second Period. Keep it coming. Just keep it coming.
0:00 - It's 3-0 Boston going into the first break. Wooooo!

6.4 - A broken play. No matter. Marc Savard's patience pays off. He takes the puck about 20-feet from price and waits, waits, waits and dishes to Sturm who beats the Canadiens goalie. 3-0, Boston.

1:42 - The crowd was just chanting, "Carey, Carey, Carey." Latendresse is in the box for a minor. Boston's first power play.

3:00 - Yelle is having a great game. He and his linemates Thornton and Kobasew worked their tails off to keep the puck deep. Yelle gathered his own rebound and shot it over a fallen Price. 2-0, Boston.

3:43 - The game has bogged down a bit. Shots are 8-7, B's.

6:22 - Stephane Yelle, minus the stick he had given Zdeno Chara (his broke) swats the puck to fellow Bruin, who clears the zone. Veteran move.

8:01 - Axelsson in the box for holding.

8:21 - Lucic just gave Komisarek the "flopping chicken wings" because the latter didn't drop his gloves. Milan had previously pounded Kovalev and sent his helmet flying.

10:23 - A big break for the B's, one of the Canadiens had Fernandez beat and hit the post. Phew.

11:35 - Boston has maintained control, due in large part to the play of Bergeron, Ryder and Axelsson. Outstanding forechecking by the Bruins has kept the Habs bottled up for much of the first half of the session.

14:22 - The B's are buzzing. Ha. This time Sturm tests Price. Shots are 5-3, Boston.

15:38 - This time Price hangs on to calm things down.

16:03 - Kessel, off a feed by Lucic, springs through center ice. Price made the save. But the red jerseys in the building were not pleased.

17:29 - So much for the Habs saying the B's had THREE LINES contributing...Thornton scores. He took advantage of a bad Canadiens miscue, and tip-toed in (really) to beat Price. 1-0, Boston.

17:37 - Bergeron, Axelsson and Co. were creating some real havoc in the Canadiens zone.

18:57 - Another save for Manny. Fernandez, smartly, holds on for the faceoff. Boston should try and determine the pace -- i.e. slow things down.

19:33 - Fernandez with a kick save. A frenetic pace...

19:59 - Savard won the face off.

20:00 - Start of First Period. There's no predicting what this is going to look like. Manny Fernandez likes a lot of shots early, and he might just get his wish.

Fernandez is 3-1-1 with a 2.57 GAA.

Montreal's starters are: Komisarek, Plekanec, Kovalev, A. Kostitsyn, Markov and Price
Boston's starters are: Lucic, Savard, Kessel, Chara, Ward, Fernandez

Switching to game clock...

6:29 p.m.
It's Manny. Fernandez will start for Boston. All 22 skaters are on the ice for the Bruins.

My guess on the lines:
Lucic - Savard - Kessel
Axelsson - Bergeron - Ryder
Sturm  - Krejci - Wheeler
Thornton - Yelle - Kobasew
Chara - Ward
Ference - Wideman
Stuart - Hnidy

Scratches: Hunwick, Nokelainen

6:02 p.m.
Notes from the TD Banknorth Pressbox...
  • The Bruins enter tonight’s game winners of four in a row and seven of their last eight overall.  They have outscored their opponents 24-12 during this eight game span.
  • The Bruins are undefeated in their last four games at the TD Banknorth Garden and have outscored their opponents 18-8 during their four-game win streak.  They have a 4-1-1 record in six home games during the 2008-2009 season.
  • Nine Bruins have tallied eight or more points on the season, tied with Toronto for the most in the Eastern Conference and second overall in the league behind San Jose who has 11 players with eight or more points.
  • Montreal goaltender Carey Price is 6-0-0 lifetime in six regular season starts against the Bruins with a 2.27 Goals Against Average.
  • Montreal forward Chris Higgins has a four-game point streak in progress with 4-2-6 totals over that time.
  • The Canadiens have won each of the last 12 regular season meetings between the two clubs.  The last time Boston defeated Montreal during the regular season was on March 3, 2007 (3-1 win in Boston).

5:46 p.m.'s Angela Stefano ran down to the Bruins locker room to catch a quick presser from Coach Julien:

Claude Julien
Coach Julien addressed the media before the game this afternoon, looking very upbeat despite what’s been a whirlwind 24 hours.

He hoped his team would look that way tonight as well.

“We can make excuses now, or we can just put them aside and go out there and play,” Julien said.  “We can’t control the schedule…and we just have to turn the page and prepare the best we can, go out there and compete.”

The Bruins may have an extra spring in their step because of the standings.  Although it’s only 12 games into the season, the Bruins lead the Northeast Division and are second in the conference only to the New York Rangers.

“We don’t talk too much about it,” Julien said.  “It’s mostly about our performance night after night, and if your performance is good, the rest takes care of itself.  I don’t like to get too much into that.

“I think the guys can all see the standings; they know where we are and what we can do.  My job is mostly to make sure that these guys are ready to play every night.”

But there’s no denying that last night’s shootout win against a Chicago team that has been dominant was big.

“People seem to think I roll the dice, and it’s far from that,” said Julien about his shootout lineup that included the out-of-the-ordinary choices of Blake Wheeler and P.J. Axelsson.  “It’s definitely a move that we made based on what we’ve seen, and we’ve been working on that part of our game for a while now.

“We’ve seen things from players that impress us, so it wasn’t a crapshoot by any means.  It was deserved, and they proved us right.”

The choice to go with Tim Thomas in net was calculated, too.

“Timmy is still Timmy,” said Julien.  “He had good numbers last year, too, and I know it may be a little more impressive.  You’ve got to give him credit for that.  If you want to give the team a little credit for that, also, I think we’re playing better in front of him, too.

“But he’s been outstanding.”

As for tonight’s lineup, mum was the word.

Shane Hnidy has been targeted for a return, but Coach would only say it was a “game time decision.”

“We’ve got 22 players out for warm-ups,”  he said, “and we’ll make our decision after warm-up.”

4:29  p.m.
Montreal Canadiens' Kyle Chipchura and Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas and Bruins teammate Matt Hunwick (48) battle for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ian Barrett)
Defenseman Matt Hunwick was the sole participant in Wednesday’s game present at the B’s morning skate.

“It was a close, (tough) game all the way through,” said Hunwick, who, as of 11:30 a.m. did not know if he would remain in the lineup. “Unfortunately they got that goal late in the third.

“But I thought we answered well.

“I thought we played well for a road game, in an environment that was tough to play in with the big crowd,” he said.

Hunwick pointed out the character that the B’s showed to get to OT and the shootout, and then take home the win.

“I think this team has a different confidence than last year,” said Hunwick, who played 13 games with Boston during 2007-08. “Obviously, it’s the same corps of guys, back, but I think the attitude is different.

“Each game we go into, we feel we should win that game. There’s nothing else to play for besides the win, no matter if we are at home or on the road, and I think we’ve shown that in the last eight to ten games.

“It’s definitely a lot of fun to be part of this, right now,” he said.

Hunwick reiterated that his preparation for this evening wouldn’t change no matter if he were in the lineup or watching from the ninth floor.

“I’ll be ready to play, just like I was yesterday,” he said. “It’s the same mindset.

“If something changes after warmup I’ll take it from there.”

Where he will take it will be the press box – not to sulk, but to study.

“The coaches are going to make the best choice for the team,” said Hunwick. “That’s really what’s most important right now.

“Me, I’ll deal with it. I’ll go ride the bike and do what I have to do and I’ll have a great chance, if I don’t play, to watch a really good team and see how we play against Montreal.”

1:20 p.m.
Montreal Canadiens Saku Koivu, right, tries to get the shot off against Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ian Barrett)
This afternoon, after their morning skate, the Canadiens talked about the Bruins quite a bit -- but none of it was derogatory.

 “We haven’t seen them in a while, and you only see their record, so it seems like they’ve been playing well,” said Canadiens captain Saku Koivu. “They’re winning games.

“We saw them quite often last year and in the playoffs, and I thought (this year’s) first game in Montreal was a good matchup.”

The Canadiens captain said that the rivalry is something he enjoys.

“It’s a lot of fun to play,” said Koivu of the first game. “(The Bruins) are a team that seem to find a way to win games.

“Last night they won 2-1 in the shootout and by winning, you gain some confidence, and I am sure they are going to be ready tonight.”

Canadiens defenseman Mike Komisarek was raring to go.

“We know that they got in late last night,” he said. “But (the B’s) have been playing very well.

“I had the chance to watch the game a little bit last night and they seemed like they were rolling three good lines and had a balanced attack.

“They have some guys who are really playing with confidence, so any time you play a team that (has played) back-to-back, you want to jump on them early, continue to stay on them and not back off,” said Komisarek.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Mike Komisarek, upper left, is slammed into the board by Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic (17) as fans cheer in the first period of Game 3 of the NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal hockey playoffs in Boston, Sunday April 13, 2008.(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Komisarek said that the Bruins “are a talented team” and pointed out the addition of Bergeron to the roster makes Boston a even more formidable opponent.

“He’s the heart and soul guy of their team and he’s helped them out tremendously.”

Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau also pointed at Bergeron.

“We saw it last year – they had a good team – and Bergeron was not there,” he said. “So, we knew that when he came back, and ready to play, they would be a better team.

“Their defense is strong and their goaltending has been strong all year and last year.

“I think Claude (Julien) has always been pretty steady with how he wants his team to play,” said Carbonneau.

In the end, however, Komisarek seemed to sum up everyone’s feelings about tonight’s game.

“With these divisional games, there’s a lot of history that goes back (especially) with these guys,” he explained. “These matchups are always very physical and you can almost see the hatred on the ice.”

Hatred. I’ve heard that somewhere…JB

12:30 p.m.
Hunwick, Hnidy and Nokelainen remained the only Bruins to make an appearance this morning. Neither Hunwick or Nokelainen knew if they were playing tonight.

After the Canadiens practiced, Carey Price was first off, so expect to see him in goal for the Habs.

11:02 a.m.

Right now, only Shane Hnidy, Matt Hunwick and Petteri Nokelainen are on the ice. Stay tuned...

10:32 a.m.

Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price stops a shot by Boston Bruins' Michael Ryder during the shootout in an NHL hockey game in Montreal on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008. The Canadiens won 4-3. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)
There’s no shortage of hype going into the big game tonight between Our Boys and Les Habitants.

Steven Harris of the Boston Herald penned:
The B’s can’t rest. They face another stiff test tonight against the Canadiens, who have beaten them 12 straight times in the regular season dating to March 3, 2007. They also knocked the B’s out of the playoffs last year.

Mick Colageo of the New Bedford Standard Times wrote:
During an Original Six reunion week in which the Boston Bruins face four members of their pre-1967 fraternity in a six-day span, one game and one game only stands out like news about your 401K: tonight's against the Montreal Canadiens at TD Banknorth Garden.

Mike Loftus, of The Patriot Ledger pointed out that Boston had accomplished quite a few things in the first 15 games:
They’ve defeated some of the NHL’s best home teams, like Chicago (6-0-3 at the United Center) on Wednesday night, and they’ve beaten the best road warriors, like Buffalo (4-1-2)…There’s one big task still to accomplish. Boston’s regular-season winless streak against Montreal is at 12 games – 10 in regulation, the last couple in shootouts. The B’s have lost five straight home games to the Habs since their last win in this series on March 3, 2007. End that drought tonight, and they stay in first place in the Northeast Division.

Frankly, despite the youth of the season and the early date, it all has a ring of truth. All of it.

Yes, the Bruins and Canadiens can and will say what they want. The PC things. The stuff that they are taught by coaches and PR directors and agents to say.
…that tonight is just one of 82.
…that they play the Canadiens six times.
…that what matters to them is where you are in April.

But here is an indisputable fact. Both teams hate falling to each other so much, that a game in November can take on the values and characteristics that make Stanley Cup playoff hockey so incredible.

In the same way that the Red Sox hate losing to the Yankees, the Boston Bruins hate losing to the Montreal Canadiens. And vice versa. In both cases, the preponderance of the history rests on the latter club. But when it comes down to individual games or series, these are the games you want to see and the games the clubs want to play.

We saw that last spring. We saw it during preseason. We will see it tonight. For what are sports without rivalry? Without someone to consistently test your mettle you have spectacle without substance. But when the Canadiens play the Bruins you get it all.

And yah, just like Bosox/Yanks you can throw in a little hatred, too.
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