|Milan Lucic is enemy number one tonight at the Bell Centre. Photo: Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images|
Last night was "Rivalry Night" according to NBC Sports, but tonight is part one of the greatest rivalry in hockey for the 2014-15 season. The Montreal Canadiens will host the Boston Bruins in their home opener at the Bell Centre. The crowd should be very loud, but if anyone knows how to handle the hostile, Montreal hockey fans it's the Bruins. Last year, the Habs got the better of Boston in both the regular season(3-1) and playoffs (4-3) and will look to continue their recent domination of their hated rivals. Montreal was off to a 3-0 start before getting blitzed by the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-1 on Monday. Let's take a look at this match-up from each side of the puck:
Offense: The Bruins come into this game after scoring more than one goal for only the second time this season. The chances have been there for the Boston offense, but the finish has not. As the Bruins and their fans know, not finishing chances against the Habs does not end well. David Krejci scored his first goal of his short season and Reilly Smith leads the team with two goals. For Montreal, no one is hotter than Tomas Plekanec. The Habs' veteran has four goals in as many games and historically gives the Bruins trouble. Other players to watch include Max Pacioretty and newcomer PA Parenteau.
Defense: Neither team's defense has been stellar this season. Boston has yet to get significant contributions from their blue-liners, but are starting to play better. However, the speedy Canadiens' forwards give Boston's defense trouble and will be a focus for many tonight. The Habs' most recent loss was not exactly a showcase in strong defense. However, P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov are both +3 through four games. Subban is always a factor and was a big reason for the Habs' success last playoffs.
Goaltending: No team gives Bruins' netminder Tuukka Rask more trouble than the Montreal Canadiens. Rask is 3-10-3 in his career against the blue-blanc-rouge and needs to exercise his demons at some point if the Bruins are going to knock off their hated rivals. Some speculate we may see backup Niklas Svedberg tonight since Rask played in Detroit last night, but I would be surprised to see the rookie start against the Habs in their home opener. Carey Price was fantastic in last year's second round series and may have carried his team to the Cup finals if not for his injury. This season has not been good for Price thus far as he has a 3.66 goals-against-average and .878 save percentage.
Prediction: The Bruins need this win more than Montreal and have revenge on their minds, but they played last night and the crowd will be crazy in Montreal. It will be close, but I like the Canadiens to win 4-2.
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