BROSSARD - The challenge ahead won't be easy for the Canadiens, as the top team in the NHL is in town on Tuesday night.
The archrival Boston Bruins are enjoying an excellent start to the season. Bruce Cassidy's troops have put together an 11-1-2 record in 14 games so far in 2019-20.
Boston is currently riding a six-game winning streak, with the most recent one coming on Monday night against TD Garden - an impressive 6-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
If the Bruins are an incredibly successful bunch to date, it's in large part thanks to their first line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak.
Pastrnak (14G, 15A) and Marchand (10G, 18A) are the leading point-getters in the League. In all, Boston's first line has recorded an impressive 72 points, including 31 goals, which represents 59.62% of Boston's tallies this season.
It's no secret, then, that Claude Julien's troops will have to be vigilant whenever the Bergeron line is on the ice.
"That's the game plan for every team when they play Boston. They're a big line who score a lot and can do damage. We're going to try to contain them and prevent them from getting scoring chances. If we're able to do that, we'll improve our chances of winning the game," outlined Julien during his pregame press conference. "Many teams have tried, and many teams have failed. It's going to be a big challenge for us tonight. Those are three players who know each other well and who have been playing well together for a few years. They're all over the place on the ice. It's important for us to be aware. We have to make sure we defend well against them."
In four games last season against the Bruins, the Habs picked up two wins, including one in overtime thanks to a superb goal by Jeff Petry.
Video: MTL@BOS: Petry bats in OT winner with backhand
Montreal can attribute its success against Boston in 2018-19 to the Phillip Danault line. That trio, also featuring Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Tatar, was heavily relied upon to counter the Bruins' top line. And it was mission accomplished for them, as that line was held to just two goals against Montreal in those four games.
The Canadiens' veteran bench boss plans on using the same strategy again on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.
"It's motivating. If we remember last year, Phillip's line did some good work against Patrice Bergeron's," recalled Julien. "We'd like to see the same thing tonight. We have a lot of depth so we can use other players when we're stuck, too. In general, I think the Danault line likes the challenge."
First game in 2019-20 for Poehling
For his part, forward Ryan Poehling will be playing his first game of the season in bleu-blanc-rouge. The 20-year-old American will center a line between Paul Byron and Artturi Lehkonen.
In order to be successful on Tuesday against the Bruins, Montreal's first-round pick (25th overall) in 2017 hopes to just keep things simple.
"I'm going to take advantage of the opportunity to show what I can do. I just have to focus on my game and try not to do too much," explained Poehling after Tuesday's optional morning skate at the Bell Sports Complex. "I have to keep things simple."
Exceptionally, the Bruins-Canadiens showdown gets underway at 7:30 p.m. at the Bell Centre. For tickets, click here.