BOSTON - If you're on the Montreal side of the Canadiens-Bruins rivalry, chances are you don't have many nice things to say about Boston. But for Brendan Gallagher, the animosity is just part of the charm.
"It's definitely one of my favorite places in the League to play. There's just something to it, the Montreal-Boston rivalry," outlined Gallagher, who has eight goals and 23 points in 31 career games against the archrival Bruins. "We've had a playoff series here. You understand the emotion that comes with it, and that stuff sticks with you; it's not something that goes away. When you go through those heated games and series, that kind of stuff carries forward and never really leaves your memory."
The Bruins are first overall in the League with 80 points and winger David Pastrnak is tied for third in the NHL scoring race with 78 points (38G, 40A).
They'll be a tough team to contain, even tougher given that the Canadiens will have to do so without captain Shea Weber, but Gallagher believes in the collective ability of the Montreal side to handle the challenge.
"We've had to do it before. Obviously, Webs takes care of a lot of that but for us, it's the same thing: five guys on the ice, we have to do the job. It's not something that you can rely on one guy to do it," shared Gallagher, who has two assists in three games against Boston this season. "It's a mentality where you have to be aware when they're on the ice. They do most of their team's damage, so if you're able to do a job on them, it helps your chances of winning."
Video: Gallagher on facing Boston's top line without Weber
If the Habs want to do some damage of their own against the League's top team, they'll have to try and improve their lot on the power play, which is currently tied for 19th in the NHL at 18.9% compared to the Bruins' fourth-ranked penalty kill (83.7%).
"We haven't been winning our battles for loose pucks lately. We have to have the mentality as if we're playing five-on-five. We have to win our battles and get pucks," explained head coach Claude Julien, whose troops have only scored one goal with the man advantage in their past five games. "Even after getting a scoring chance, we have to be ready to jump on the puck. We have to try to score and regain control. It's that kind of detail that's hurt us the most."
Paul will have to wait
Forward Paul Byron took part in Wednesday's morning skate after traveling with the team to Massachusetts, but won't be doing battle with the Bruins as he's still not cleared for game action.
"He has the green light for practice, but he hasn't gotten the green light to play. He knows his situation well. We'll see after tonight's game," said Julien. "It's still a decision for the doctors. We don't want to rush him back; we want to ensure that we're giving him the chance to come back in good shape."
Video: Claude Julien's pregame press conference in Boston
Phillip Danault, however, skated on his regular line between Tomas Tatar and Brendan Gallagher on Wednesday morning with a full cage, so expect to see him in action against the Bruins.
Thoughts for Jay
The Habs were asked for their reaction on the scary medical emergency involving St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who suffered a cardiac episode during Tuesday night's game in Anaheim.
The players were both concerned for the 36-year-old's well-being and appreciative of all those who stepped in to save him.
"You never want to see that, but the players on the ice, the training staff, the EMTs there... it sounds like they did a fantastic job. It's never ever what you want to see; it's a scary situation. I'm glad he's okay," said Thompson. "I know it was the fathers' trip too. Maybe that was a tough thing for his dad, but I think also at the same time, it was a blessing he was there."
Video: Nate Thompson on the rivalry with the Bruins
The Canadiens face the Bruins at 7:30 p.m. at TD Garden in Boston.