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Friday Four: Canadiens climbing

NHL Network's Kevin Weekes also discusses Sergei Bobrovsky, Bruins, Joe Thornton

by Kevin Weekes @kevinweekes / NHL Network Analyst

Each Friday throughout the season Kevin Weekes will be bringing you his Friday Four. He will be blogging about four players, teams, plays or trends that have caught his eye.

 

Montreal Canadiens

I've been impressed with how well the Canadiens have played defensively. Despite a 5-0 loss at the Calgary Flames on Thursday, they are 7-3-0 under coach Claude Julien. They have been locking down opponents defensively and playing better in the middle of the ice.

The Canadiens also improved before the NHL Trade Deadline by acquiring Steve Ott, Dwight King and Brandon Davidson to become more physical. They went from a team that was kind of soft and wasn't always willing to pay the price or to defend to one that no longer has to rely on Shea Weber and Brendan Gallagher for those kinds of things.

Montreal still is competing with the Ottawa Senators for the top spot in the Atlantic Division, but will be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. All of these additions should help them during the most grueling time of the year.

Video: MTL@VAN: Byron redirects puck through legs for OT win

 

Sergei Bobrovsky

What can you say about him? He's got three straight shutouts, defeating the Minnesota Wild 1-0 on March 2, and the New Jersey Devils in back-to-back games on March 5 (3-0) and March 7 (2-0). Bobrovsky hasn't allowed a goal in regulation in his past four starts; his last loss was 1-0 in overtime at the Canadiens on Feb. 28.

Bobrovsky has been consistent, and exceptional and spectacular when he needs to be. For the season he's 35-13-4 with a 2.05 goals-against average, .931 save percentage and six shutouts. He broke the Blue Jackets record for wins in a season and should have no problem getting to 40.

Let's not forget, he won the Vezina Trophy in 2012-13 and is a huge reason the Blue Jackets are having the season that they are. He's struggled the past few seasons with injuries and consistency, but it's safe to say Bobrovsky is back.

Video: NJD@CBJ: Bobrovsky shuts door with three nice saves

 

New-look Boston Bruins

The Bruins are third in the Atlantic Division, two points ahead of the fourth-place Toronto Maple Leafs. Just as we've seen the success with the Canadiens since a coaching change, we ae seeing see the same thing withe Bruins. They are 9-3-0 since Bruce Cassidy replaced Julien as coach. They have been more offensive and the defense has been more involved in the plays.

As great as Tuukka Rask has been this season, the Bruins finally are getting wins from their backup goalie; that's been a problem all season, no matter who's been No. 2 behind Rask. Anton Khudobin has won three straight. That will be important for them down the stretch because if they make the playoffs for the first time in three seasons, they won't have to overplay Rask to do so.

Video: NJD@BOS: Khudobin turns aside Smith-Pelly's wrister

 

Joe Thornton

Jumbo Joe got his 1,000th NHL assist in a 3-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets on March 6. One of only 13 men in League history to do that, it's pretty amazing when we consider Sidney Crosby is one of the best players in the world and just recently got to his 1,000th point. One thousand points is an incredible feat; only 86 players have reached it.

For Thornton, 39, to get his 1,000th assist shows how well he's played throughout his career. There really hasn't been too much of a dip in production from him as he's gotten older.

Video: SJS@WPG: Thornton records 1,000th assist on late goal

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