The Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins renew the NHL's most famed rivalry when they play at TD Garden in this week's Wednesday Night Rivalry game (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, RDS, NHL.TV).
It's the second of three games between the teams in an eight-day stretch. Boston won 4-3 in a shootout at Bell Centre last Saturday, and they play again in Montreal this Saturday.
The Bruins haven't lost in regulation in 13 games (9-0-4) and are second in the Atlantic Division. The Canadiens are 2-0-2 in their past four games, but at 18-20-6, they need a run of victories to avoid seeing their hopes of qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs disappear.
Here are 5 reasons to tune in:
Claude Julien coached the Bruins for 10 seasons before he was fired last Feb. 7. He was unemployed for one week; the Canadiens hired him to replace Michel Therrien on Feb. 14. Julien was 419-246-94 with Boston and coached the Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 2011. This is Julien's first game back at TD Garden as coach of the Canadiens, and he admits that as much as he'll try to treat it as just another game, it isn't.
Rivalry of rivalries
The NHL is built on rivalries, but none is more intense than the Bruins and Canadiens. That's partly because they've faced each other in the playoffs 34 times, by far the most any two teams have played in the postseason (Montreal has won 25 times, including 18 in a row from 1946-87; Boston has won nine). The Canadiens have won 360 games, the Bruins 276 (103 ended in ties), but Montreal have won nine of the past 10 games in Boston.
Desperate times for Canadiens
There's too much hockey to be played to concede that the Bruins have locked up a playoff berth, but they're comfortably in second place in the Atlantic Division and have been among the NHL's hottest teams the past month. That's a far cry from how the Canadiens come to Boston; with 42 points in 44 games they are third from the bottom in the Eastern Conference and nine points behind the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins for the second wild card from the East. Montreal is running out of time to make a push for the postseason and can't afford to leave points on the table, as the Canadiens did in the shootout loss to Boston on Saturday and a 5-4 overtime loss to the New York Islanders on Monday.
Price vs. Rask
Montreal goaltender Carey Price has had his ups and downs this season; he's 13-14-4 with a 2.95 goals-against average and .908 save percentage. Price is 2-4-2 in eight games since the Christmas break and is coming off a game against the Islanders in which he allowed five goals on 24 shots. However, he's 24-9-5 in his career against Boston. Tuukka Rask's season has mirrored his team's: He struggled early when the Bruins were dealing with inconsistency, but he's 12-0-2 since Nov. 29 and has allowed 25 goals during that stretch. However, he's 8-15-3 all-time against Montreal.
Video: BOS@MTL: Price gloves Pastrnak's sharp one-timer
Video: BOS@MTL: Rask shuts down Jerabek, Plekanec in OT
Centers of attention
With Phillip Danault (concussion-like symptoms) and Andrew Shaw (lower body) out with injuries, the Canadiens are thin in the middle. It showed against the Islanders, when Montreal had no answer for John Tavares (two goals) and Mathew Barzal (one goal, two assists). The Canadiens will dress Logan Shaw, who was claimed off waivers from the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, and will use Jacob de la Rose to center the first line, returning Jonathan Drouin to left wing. Montreal can't let David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron, Boston's top two centers, do the kind of damage that Tavares and Barzal did two nights ago