BROSSARD - Make no mistake about it. The Canadiens understand the challenge that awaits them on Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
The Bruins enter the contest having gone 11 straight games without a loss in regulation time, boasting an 8-0-3 record during that span.
In the first of three meetings between the two Atlantic Division rivals over the next week, the Canadiens fully expect Bruce Cassidy's squad to come out flying.
"They're playing to their strengths. They're scoring off the rush. They've got a lot speed up front and they've got one line that's been doing a lot of their scoring [with Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak], and other lines are chipping in when they need to," said Andrew Shaw, following Saturday's morning skate on the South Shore. "With that chemistry, you're going to create success."
Video: Andrew Shaw on competing hard against Boston
For their part, the Canadiens are riding a two-game winning streak after securing victories over the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Vancouver Canucks before heading into their bye week break.
Keeping that momentum rolling is of primordial importance right now as they continue to fight to remain in the playoff hunt. With that in mind, Brendan Gallagher believes a matchup against a scrappy Bruins side comes at a good time.
"Looking at their last few games, they've really gotten on a roll as a team. I think it's a good test for us. With what we're going through in our season, it's a good time of year to challenge ourselves. We're going to see if we're up for it," said Gallagher. "I've got a lot of confidence in this group, so it's going to be a fun test… There's a lot of history and tradition that comes with this rivalry. There's going to be a lot of emotion. The two points that are on the line are important."
Video: Brendan Gallagher on the matchup against the Bruins
For Claude Julien, this marks his first game against his former team since being let go by the Bruins on February 7, 2017 and hired by the Canadiens one week later.
While he has great memories of his time in Beantown, his focus on Saturday night is squarely on putting up a number in the win column.
"It's always special when you're going up against your former team for the first time, but what's really important to me is winning the game and giving ourselves a chance to get back in the playoff race. That's what matters most," said Julien. "They're always interesting games. There's a good rivalry between the two teams and it should continue."
Video: Claude Julien's press conference
Defenseman Victor Mete will play his first game with the Canadiens since December 5. The 19-year-old defenseman rejoined the group for practice on Friday afternoon after claiming a gold medal with Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Buffalo. He will patrol the blue line alongside David Schlemko.