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Canadiens and Bruins renew old rivalry

by Magalie Lafreni?re /

CANADIENS (7-8-0) at BRUINS (6-7-1)

Last 10 --Canadiens 5-5-0; Bruins 4-5-1

Season series -- This is the first of six meetings between the divisional rivals. Boston won five of six regular-season games before sweeping the Habs in a first-round playoff matchup. Michael Ryder scored twice in Boston's 4-1 victory in Game 4 on April 22 at the Bell Centre.

Big story -- It's only been a month, but the teams find themselves in similar positions. Both have struggled at times and they would both find themselves out of the playoffs if the season ended today. The Habs and the Bruins have also both had their share of crippling injuries and both sit at the bottom of the League in power play rankings; Montreal is 25th, while Boston is dead last.

Team Scope:

Canadiens -- Montreal saw its five-game home winning streak end on Tuesday with a 5-4 loss to the Thrashers. The Canadiens hope to put an end to their five-game road losing streak on Thursday in Boston. The Montreal defense has been crumbling, and the addition of Hall Gill to the injured list of defensemen will not help. Goaltender Carey Price was powerless on four of the five goals he surrendered to the Thrashers, an strong indication of the inexperienced defensive core that supported him. Offensively, the Habs worked hard on Tuesday, coming from behind to tie the game on two occasions.

"You can put on a fake smile and say everything's O.K. but it is frustrating," Price said. "They're not all bad goals that are going in. I'll keep working and hopefully those good goals will stop going in."

Bruins -- Boston heads into its third straight Original Six matchup in less than a week, after having played the Rangers on Sunday in a 1-0 loss and the Red Wings on Tuesday in a 2-0 defeat. Offensively, the B's are in a bit of a funk having been shut out in the last two games, and only managing three goals in the last four. The Bruins are still trying to find their way without injured forwards Marc Savard and Milan Lucic. Tim Thomas was in goal for both shutout losses games, making 24 saves in Detroit and 23 saves in New York.

"We're going to have to decide that we're tired of hearing we had a good effort without winning," coach Claude Julien said.

Who's hot -- With the B's offensive struggles, no one has been particularly hot, but Patrice Bergeron leads with eight points. Vladimir Sobotka and Blake Wheeler had a goal and assist each in last Saturday's 2-0 win over the Oilers. While Boston has lost two in a row, Thomas was solid in allowing only three goals.

With each having picked up a goal on Tuesday, Tomas Plekanec and Mike Cammalleri are still tied for the Habs' lead in points with 14. Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta, who had a pair of goals on Tuesday, follow with 10 points each.

Injury report -- Savard (broken left foot) and Lucic (index finger) are both still recuperating from their injuries and are expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Byron Bitz is day-to-day with a groin injury.

Gill will be out for several weeks with a hairline fracture of his foot, joining fellow defenseman Andrei Markov (severed ankle tendons), and Ryan O'Byrne (knee). Matt D'Agostini is out for a least a week with a concussion and Georges Laraque is day-to-day with back issues.

Stat pack -- Steve Begin, who signed as a free agent with the Bruins this summer, has had two goals and four assists through his first 14 games. Last season with the Habs, the left wing had three goals and one assist in the same span.

Puck drop -- If the Bruins are going to snap out of their offensive funk, this would be a good time to do so. Price has struggled for Montreal and if Boston can score early, the tallies may come in bunches.
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