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Gameday Notebook: Montreal vs. Boston

by Tom Halkin / Boston Bruins
The Skate

Thirteen players participated in today’s pre-game skate led by assistant coaches Doug Houda, Craig Ramsay and Geoff Ward - seven D-men and six forwards.  Zdeno Chara, Andrew Ferrence, Matt Lashoff, Mark Stuart, Aaron Ward, and Dennis Wideman, in the black jerseys.  Phil Kessel, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Petteri Nokelaninen, Shawn Thornton, and Jeremy Reich in the white. Alex Auld and Tim Thomas manned the nets.

The Bruins warmed up with some drills that emphasized the basics of skating, passing, and shooting, then broke up into two groups based on their positions.

The forwards moved to the far end of the ice to work on cycling the puck out of the corners, while the D worked on moving the puck from behind the net, up the wall and then slap shots from the points and tops of the two face-off circles.

Though coach Julien put his players through a pretty tough workout yesterday, the morning skate was very upbeat - in pace and in spirits.

Looking forward to tonight
All the Bruins players know the importance of tonight’s game, not just because of the standings (Montreal is currently sitting 4 points ahead of the Bruins in both the division and the conference) but also because to this point in the season the B’s haven’t been able to top their heated rivals.

“It’s special every time we play these guys,” said Thomas after the morning session. “[But] It’s really a important game for us because we haven’t been able to beat these guys yet, so we have to step our game for sixty minutes.”

Speaking specifically on what Montreal does well, Thomas offered that they are a team full of talent.

“These guys do a lot of skill plays, cross-crease passes, a lot of screen shots from the points too.”

Coach Julien also reiterated the importance of tonight’s game in his media scrum.

“[They are] four point ahead of us, it’s a divisional game and they always mean a lot,” said Julien.  “The other part is that we haven’t beat them yet, so we have given them eight points and got none out of that, so I think it is time we react.”

- Aaron Ward, who has been skating, is feeling a lot better and  is a game time decision tonight.  Coach Julien said it’s a good possibility we could see him suit up.  Ward has missed the last eight games with a broken foot.
- A lot of the talk in the locker room this morning was of the recent World Junior Tournament, in which Canada defeated the Swedes 3-2 in OT. 
- Milan Lucic, who had captained the Canadian junior team this summer, said he was able to catch some of the game before the B’s took the ice on Saturday night.

From the Dark Side
Canadiens forward and former Bruin, Brian Smolinski
On tonight’s game
"Two-points is crucial this time of year, especially at this point - the halfway point."

On Montreal’s success against the Bruins so far this year
"I can’t really put a finger on it.  Maybe the power play in a few games, has either won it or lost it, you get a key goal at the end of the game."

Canadian’s head coach, Guy Carbonneau
On Montreal’s success against the Bruins so far this year
"I think we just had a good start in the first game, and just kind of went on from there.  It’s hard to understand sometimes. There are teams in the league that we can’t beat, and we seem to find ways to beat [the Bruins] every time...Sometimes it seems we are able to find ways to get around their system. That is one of our strengths this year - trying to find ways to get around what other teams are doing.
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