BRUINS (30-24-12) at CANADIENS (34-29-6)
Last 10 --
Boston 7-2-1; Montreal 6-4-0
Season series --
The Canadiens have owned the season series with four wins in the first five games. Saturday's game is the final meeting of the regular season between these two bitter rivals. Montreal has won twice in regulation and twice in a shootout. The Bruins picked up their lone win in the season series, 3-0, on Feb. 7 in Montreal.
Big story --
Both Northeast Division teams are trying to improve their standing as they jockey for playoff positioning. Depending on what Philadelphia does earlier Saturday against Chicago, the Habs could have a chance to jump the Flyers and move into sixth place in the Eastern Conference. With a regulation win Boston would tie the Habs for at least seventh in the conference with the Rangers, Thrashers and Lightning hot on their tail.
The news of concussed center Marc Savard
's status for the remainder of the season was revealed Thursday and it's not good. Savard will likely be out for the rest of the regular season as he tries to get over the effects of the concussion he got when Matt Cooke hit him in the head last week. Savard, who was knocked unconscious and taken off the ice on a stretcher after Cooke hit him, suffered a Grade 2 concussion. Boston GM Peter Chiarelli said the report he got from a neuropsychological specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital confirmed that "it doesn't look good for the rest of the year."
The Bruins did not respond nearly in kind after Savard was hit last Sunday, and coupled with the injury to the star player, Chiarelli felt the need to address the team before Thursday's game in Philadelphia. Whatever he said must have struck a chord because Boston popped five pucks past goalie Michael Leighton for a 5-1 win.
Hello, hot streak. The Canadiens have won four straight and five of six to give themselves some breathing room in the Eastern Conference playoff race. They are averaging a Washington-esque 3.67 goals per game over that span. The lone blemish was a 3-2 loss in San Jose two nights after they beat the Bruins in Boston, 4-1, in their first game back from the Olympic break.
However, Thursday's win over Edmonton wasn't pretty. The Canadiens blew three separate leads and had to go into the fifth round of the shootout before Tomas Plekanec
finally won it. Jaroslav Halak, who has won each of the last four games, gave up four goals on 25 shots before stopping five in the shootout. It'll be interesting to see if Jacques Martin goes back to Carey Price
, who has been masterful against the Bruins this season. Montreal gets Maxim Lapierre back from his four-game suspension.
Who's hot --
Since taking over for Savard as the Bruins' first-line center, Patrice Bergeron
has 2 goals and 3 assists in two games playing between Marco Sturm and Mark Recchi. … Habs center Scott Gomez
was held off the scoresheet Thursday, but prior to that had 2 goals and 6 assists in five games.
Injury report --
Savard's injury is well-documented, but the Bruins have also been without defenseman Andrew Ference
(groin) for the last five games and Miroslav Satan (groin) sat out Thursday's game. … Michael Cammalleri
(knee) and Marc-Andre Bergeron (knee) remain out for the Habs.
Stat pack --
Price is 3-0 and has allowed only three goals against the Bruins this season. He has a .971 save percentage (102 of 105) and an 0.97 goals-against average.
Puck drop --
"It's behind closed doors, so that's between us and him," Bruins right wing Blake Wheeler told the Boston Globe about Chiarelli's message to the team in the closed-door meeting. "What I can say is that everyone was inspired. He touched on the things that everybody has to take care of. Hearing it from him, it definitely lights a fire."