MONTREAL, QC - The Bruins should have defenseman Torey Krug in the lineup tonight, when they face the Canadiens at the Bell Centre (7:30 p.m. ET).
"I think he looked pretty good there this morning," Head Coach Claude Julien said following the team's pregame skate.
"So it will be a game-time [decision] but I’d be extremely surprised if he didn’t play."
Krug skated at Wednesday's practice back in Boston as well, and appears good to go. He's been working through a minor issue that kept him off the ice earlier in the week.
The blueliner played a preseason game here in September, but tonight would mark his first regular season game against the Habs at the Bell Centre.
"It was a lot of fun, even in preseason," said Krug. "I know it's going to be high energy; they're playing great hockey and we're playing well, too, so it's going to be a lot of fun playing in there."
Tonight marks the first of four meetings between the teams this season. It marks the 722nd meeting overall in the teams' histories. While Boston celebrates its 90th birthday this season, Montreal turns 104.
It wouldn't be proper Bruins-Habs hockey, without the top spot in the division on the line. The idle Bruins (18-7-2) have 38 points, with the Canadiens (17-9-3) inching closer. Their 4-3 shootout win in New Jersey on Wednesday night put them one point behind Boston with 37.
"Just another reason to play harder," said Daniel Paille. "They’ve played very good as of late. It’s going to be a tight game and it’s going to be important for us to come out really strong, especially that first period."
Boston is 6-1-1 in their last eight games, and 10-2-2 in their past 14. The Habs have been rolling along, with a 9-2-1 record in their past 12 games that has seen them allow two goals or fewer in 11 of those contests.
It's a simple concept. Starts are always important. But even more so within the confines of the Bell Centre, where an early Montreal lead can make an already tough place to play deafening.
"When we’ve had a good start here, we’ve had decent success," said Julien. "When we’ve had a bad start, this is a team that’s been hard to rally back against; they protect the lead pretty good."
"This is a hard building to fall behind in and it’s not an easy building to climb back into. That’s the part that we’ve always talked about; our first period has to be a big period for us tonight."
The Bruins feed off of that energy - and hatred. The key is finding composure amidst the emotion.
Not to the surprise of anyone, Tuukka Rask was first off the ice at morning skate, and is expected between the pipes tonight opposite Carey Price for Montreal.
Rask is 14-6-2 on the season, with a 1.90 goals-against average and .935 save percentage. He's allowed two or fewer goals in 15 of his 22 starts. The netminder's career numbers vs Montreal don't jump out, with a 2-8-2 record, but a strong outing between the pipes and stingy night from the Bruins in front of him should help improve that record.
Price has a 16-8-3 all-time record against Boston, with a 2.55 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. He's 12-8-2 this season. Price had the night off last night in New Jersey, with Peter Budaj earning the shootout win.
Boston Projected Lineup
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Loui Eriksson
Carl Soderberg-Chris Kelly-Reilly Smith
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton*
Dennis Seidenberg-Torey Krug
Matt Bartkowski-Johnny Boychuk
Starter: Tuukka Rask // Backup: Chad Johnson
Healthy scratches: Jordan Caron, Kevan Miller
*During pregame skate, Chara and Boychuk were paired together, with Krug rotating through. At the other blueline during rushes, Seidenberg and Hamilton were paired, along with Bartkowski-Miller. But with Krug likely back in, that would rotate the pairings to the above projection, as they were with McQuaid sidelined.
Adam McQuaid did not make the trip to Montreal, as he re-aggravated his lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day.