Commentary

Bruins ready for another wild one

With Habs seeking revenge on home ice, B's need to play smart

Updated: March 8, 2011, 8:44 AM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- When the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens last faced each other on Feb. 9 at TD Garden, it was your typical battle between the Original Six teams. The game featured all-out scrums that littered the ice with gloves and sticks, while the penalty boxes were overflowing with players in standing-room-only fashion. There was a total of 182 minutes in penalties and there was even a fight between goaltenders Tim Thomas and Carey Price.

Oh, and Boston won, 8-6.

The clubs play again Tuesday night at the Bell Centre for the first time since then. In the past month, the Bruins are 8-4, including a seven-game winning streak, and they now sit atop the Northeast Division with 84 points, while the Canadiens trail with 79. Which means this is a huge four-point game for both teams.

The Bruins know they must get off to a quick start and play tough and smart. Montreal is always a dangerous team when it plays on home ice and it carries a four-game home winning streak against Boston.

[+] EnlargeBruins V. Canadiens
Steve Babineau/NHLI/Getty ImagesBruins goalie Tim Thomas battles with Habs goalie Carey Price the last time the two teams played.

"From here on in they're all big games, especially [Tuesday] night," said Bruins forward Milan Lucic. "It's a division game and they're behind us for the divisional lead. They're on a bit of a winning streak and they're playing real well. It seems like every time we go in there they play a good, hard game against us. We're going to have to play hard, but most of all we have to play smart."

Lucic, who leads the Bruins with 28 goals this season, scored twice against the Canadiens in the last game.

"It was a lot of fun to be in and I know our fans still talk about it and remember," Lucic said. "Obviously, there are some things we did great offensively, and there are some things we did great, like sticking up for each other and being team tough. Moving forward, we'll have to do the same things."

When asked whether he expects the Canadiens to seek retribution for the beating they took the last game, Bruins coach Claude Julien acknowledged it was a legit question but said the page has been turned.

"Bottom line is, we need to come up with a win and we've got to be smart about it," Julien said.

That's because the Habs haven't turned the page on that last game and the Bruins players know it.

"Obviously, we've got to play our game and stick to our system and do what has been giving us success," said Patrice Bergeron. "It's two huge points and we're not heading to Montreal hoping the same thing is going to happen as last game."

The Bell Centre gets loud and it is no doubt a hostile environment for visiting players, especially ones wearing black and gold. The Canadiens will attempt to play the same style game as last time, and the Bruins will need to stay poised.

"It's huge," Bergeron said. "We have to keep our emotions in check and make sure to play our game and not worry about what they're going to do."

Bruins defenseman Tomas Kaberle played many games against the Canadiens when he wore a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater. When the puck drops Tuesday night, it will be his first as a Bruin.

"It's always a good building to play in," he said. "It's a good atmosphere and obviously it's a big rivalry game against Boston and I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a tight game from the start."

Kaberle was a major addition for the Bruins prior to the trade deadline and he has fit right in with his new teammates. In fact, the Boston roster is a bit different from the last time the Bruins played the Canadiens. Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley have also been added to the mix and give the Bruins a more veteran presence.

Kaberle said he's not expecting much to be different.

"It'll be similar," he said. "It's a division game and pretty much a four-point game all the time. It's a good test for our team because obviously everybody remembers last game. It's going to be intense and a playoff atmosphere game. All the guys are looking forward to that game, for sure."

Boston currently holds the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference, while Montreal sits at No. 6. There's a very good chance these teams could face each other in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in just over a month from now.

"It should be a good game," said Bruins forward Gregory Campbell. "It's important for us to get those two points because that very well could be a first-round matchup. It's going to be another playoff-type game. It always is when we play Montreal."

This game may not accumulate as many fights and penalty minutes as the last one.

"You can play physical and stupid and end up in the box," Campbell said. "For us, it's more about using what we've got. We've got big, strong forwards and we're at our best when we're playing physical. It's not necessarily about the fighting."

Either way, it should be a great hockey game.

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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