BOSTON -- With their last confrontation of the season hours away and the possibility of a playoff series against their division rivals looming, Thursday night’s tilt against the Bruins at TD Garden will be a true statement game for the Canadiens.
Having already dominated their season series against Boston four games to one, the Habs will be looking to add an exclamation point with one last win in Beantown. A fifth victory over the Bruins would not only bring the Montreal squad one step closer to catching the Northeast Division leaders, but also send a message that will carry into the post-season.
“As far as carrying momentum into a playoff series, this game is huge. If we wind up meeting them early or even later on, we want to make sure that we have that momentum on our side when the time comes,” explained veteran Jeff Halpern who after practicing in the Habs optional Thursday morning skate will be a game-time decision against the Bruins.
No stranger to thriving in high-pressure games Habs’ sniper and the NHL’s leading post-season goal-scorer in 2009-10, Michael Cammalleri, expects the Canadiens-Bruins rivalry to energize his team Thursday night, as it has all year.
“I don’t think we feel like we’ve been playing our best hockey as of late so that’s great motivation for us to have a good game tonight. Sometimes when we’re playing a team that we all recognize as being very talented, it really brings out the best in us as a group,” said Cammalleri who along with the rest of the Canadiens will be looking to reproduce the same success enjoyed by the team in their most recent 4-1 win over the Bruins at the Bell Centre.
“There’s a high probability that we’re going to meet them in the post-season, so the way this game goes tonight will really leave an impression on both teams of how things could unfold down the road.”
Despite the extreme media attention that Thursday’s game has sparked around the League, including recent speculations concerning the severity of forward Max Pacioretty
’s injury, Habs’ head-coach Jacques Martin was quick to point out that his team’s focus was exactly where it needed be – on the points at stake.
“I expect a tight checking game tonight and great goaltending from both teams. This is the last meeting for both our teams this season so we need to take advantage of it as a chance to make up some ground,” assessed Martin, surrounded by media after the Habs morning practice.
“Rivalries are built over the years and when you look at the amount of times these teams have met in the playoffs, you really see why it’s there. We’ve had some tremendous games against them this season, and we understand the importance of this game as a team, and our responsibility to go out tonight and get two very important points.”Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.SEE ALSO:Canadiens look to capture another from Bruins Point hunting Bulldogs Report - Mar. 23, 2011 2011 Playoff race