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Julien, Carbonneau not on the same side yet

by Mike G. Morreale
Before they begin sharing strategy as coaches for the Eastern Conference in the 57th NHL All-Star Game in Montreal on Jan. 25, Boston's Claude Julien and Montreal's Guy Carbonneau will lead their respective teams against each other tonight in an Original Six matchup in Boston (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, RDS).

The contest marks the fourth of six games between the teams this season with the Bruins holding a 2-0-1 edge. The Bruins, atop the Eastern Conference with a 31-7-4 record, sport an impressive 16-3-1 mark on home ice. The Canadiens (25-10-6) are 11-6-2 on the road this season.

Sparking further interest in the matchup is the fact Boston's Julien was named the head coach for the Eastern All-Star Team after his club posted the best points percentage in the conference through games played Saturday. Carbonneau will serve as his assistant after the Canadiens posted the second best points percentage.

The Canadiens, who have scored five goals or more in each of their last four games with 10 players finding the back of the net over that span, lead the all-time series, 330-259-103-4.

The contest is one of three rivalry matchups slated this evening, including Pittsburgh at Philadelphia and the Rangers at Islanders. Here are a few news and notes while you await the opener of tonight's 12-game schedule:

* St. Louis forward Brad Boyes has been a part of 19 of the Blues' 40 power-play goals this season. He's tied for 14th in the NHL in power play points (19) and ranks 3rd in the NHL with 11 power play goals. He's also tied for sixth with 5 game-winning goals.

* Ottawa forward Jason Spezza has seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) in his last six games; Daniel Alfredsson (2-4) has six points in his last six games; Antoine Vermette is third in the League in faceoff winning percentage (61.8); Chris Neil's 106 penalty minutes are tied for fifth most in the League and Jason Smith's 91 blocked shots are tied for 11th most in the League.

* The Carolina Hurricanes have won four of their last six games and have earned points in 12 of their last 17. The club is currently second in the Southeast Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference with 47 points. The Hurricanes have failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs the last two seasons.

* Vancouver Canucks forwards Kyle Wellwood and Daniel Sedin have combined to score the first goal of a game on nine occasions or 20.5 percent of the time this season. Wellwood has scored the first goal five times, which is third-highest in the League, and Sedin has scored the first goal four times, which ranks 11th. When Wellwood has scored the first goal, the Canucks have gone 3-1-1; when Sedin scores first, the Canucks are 3-1-0.

* Philadelphia Flyers forward Mike Richards has recorded at least a point in nine of his last 10 games at home (6 goals, 9 assists), teammate Jeff Carter has at least a point in seven of his last eight home games (8 goals, 14 points) and goalie Martin Biron is 7-1-2 in his last 10 starts, recording a 2.56 goals-against average and .919 save percentage.

* Pittsburgh Penguins forward Petr Sykora has 9 goals over his last 15 games and 3 goals in his last three contests. Sykora ranks third on the team with 32 points (16 goals) and is tied for second with 16 goals. His 6 game-winning goals rank second in the NHL this season. He finished with 63 points (28 goals) in 81 games last season.

* Four of the Oilers' top eight scorers are defensemen, including All-Star Game representative Sheldon Souray, who is second on the team with 29 points (12 goals) in 40 games. Souray leads the team with 12 goals and 7 power-play goals and is sixth in scoring among NHL defensemen.

* The Minnesota Wild have gone 9-16-2 against teams in the Western Conference, including a 2-9-2 mark in the last 13 tries. Minnesota's win against San Jose on Dec. 31 snapped a nine-game winless streak (0-8-1) against Western foes. The good news is that Minnesota is 11-2-0 in its last 13 meetings with Phoenix, tonight's opponent at Xcel Energy Center.

* Tampa Bay has averaged 3.3 goals per game in their previous eight contests after averaging 2.2 over their first 34. The club has also averaged 3.1 goals in their previous eight road matches after averaging 2.25 in their first 16.

* Colorado Avalanche teammates Milan Hejduk and Ryan Smyth have each scored 298 career goals. Hejduk, who has spent his entire career with Colorado, will become only the fourth player in franchise history to obtain 300, joining Joe Sakic (625), Michel Goulet (456) and Peter Stastny (380). The last set of teammates to both score their 300th goal in the same season, incidentally, were Bobby Holik and Slava Kozlov with Atlanta in 2006-07.
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