The Canadiens trip to Boston sets up another “ambush” game Thursday as the Bruins play in Pittsburgh tonight before flying home to meet the waiting Habs. The replay of that game will be shown overnight and again on Thursday afternoon over the NHL Network in Canada if you want to do some advance scouting of your own. It will be live on the NHL Network in the US.
Tonight will be the Bruins 12th game of the season, compared to the Habs 15. A win in Pittsburgh would put them only two points behind Montreal for the division lead.
Boston will be without David Krejci, their important second line centre, who was concussed following a check by the Blues T.J. Oshie on Saturday (video) a check Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli, quoted in The Boston Globe, termed “just one of those things. I have no problem with that hit.” He’s out at least this week and maybe next week as well, as he is still feeling mild headaches according to a radio interview Chiarelli gave this morning.
The B’s are following the NHL protocol on concussions by giving Krejci the rest he needs to recuperate from what Chiarelli called a “moderate concussion.” They have lots of experience with concussions to their scoring forwards, as both Patrice Bergeron and Marc Savard having been out for extended periods in recent years (and Savard is still out).
Krejci is the guy who helps get Milan Lucic playing at his best and
he’s doing the same with Nathan Horton on the other wing. Horton’s fine play in the
early going helped the B’s get off to a strong start this season, reversing last season’s offensive anemia. A
former 3rd overall draft pick (2003), Horton was traded to Boston by
Florida in June and he leads the Bruins with 6 goals and 5 assists in 11
games. That trio is currently 1-2-3 in scoring for Boston.
So coach Claude Julien has reconfigured his scoring lines in
practice this week, inserting Bergeron between Lucic and Horton. That line wiill pose the most potential danger for the Canadiens and it will be interesting to see how Jacques Martin and his staff defend against them. As Mike Boone noted last night in his Quick Hits following the Habs victory over the Canucks, they deployed Roman Hamrlik and Jaroslav Spacek against the Sedins last night and it worked out rather well. Will he dare using those great geezers in that shutdown role again?
Julien has also moved Blake Wheeler to centre, the position he played at the
University of Minnesota, between Mark Recchi and rookie Jordan Caron. Wheeler has only a goal and two assists on the year.
Tyler Seguin will center Dan Paille and Michael Ryder on the third line against the Pens. Paille has been a healthy scratch since the first game of the season. Brad Marchand, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton are the fourth line.
If these lines work well tonight in Pittsburgh, Julien can be expected to keep
them for Thursday.
Tim Thomas will start tonight, and whether he faces Montreal may depend on his play against the Penguins. Thomas is off to a blazing hot start, hoping to redeem his lost season of 2009-10 when he tried playing through a hip injury and fell off sharply from his Vezina Trophy winning form of the season before.
His previous start came in Washington last Friday, when Julien pulled him after the second period trailing 3-0, although the coach did not hold the goalie responsible for the B’s poor play in front of him.
Thomas’s .967 save percentage, 1.05 GAA and three shutouts are tops in the NHL.
Tuukka Rask, who sparkled for the B’s last season (his first full NHL campaign) has yet to win a game this year, but he’s played well nevertheless. He lost a goaltenders’ duel to Jaroslav Halak in Saturday’s game against the Blues, dropping a 2-1 OT decision, stopping 34 shots. Rask told Jimmy Murphy on ESPNBoston.com that he’s happy with his play and the team seems to be as well.
“We’ve got two great goaltenders and we rely on both of them,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara told Murphy. “I know
Timmy’s playing a lot right now and he’s really hot, but Tuukka, any
time he gets a chance to play, he takes it to heart and plays his best,
competing like crazy. That’s good news for us.”
Chara continues to anchor the Boston defence. He’s partnered with Andrew Ference. The other pairings are Matt Hunwick with Dennis Seidenberg, and Mark Stuart with