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BOSTON (CBS) – There’s more than one big game on the docket for Boston sports fans Monday night.
The Patriots will host at sub-.500, non-divisional rival in Foxboro. Meanwhile, the Bruins face their stiffest test in sometime when they visit Montreal for a showdown with their hated rivals.
You remember the Canadiens, don’t you? They’re the team that took down the Bruins by a combined score of 6-3 in a home-and-home series late last month before the Bruins morphed into a super team capable of never losing again. So now the Bruins’ eight-game winning streak has come full circle – as Boston will try for a third time to solve the Habs, who are 5-4-0 since their sweep of the Bruins.
Read: Bruins-Habs Preview
When reminiscing about those two Bruins defeats, in Boston’s ninth and 10th games of the season, it’s hard to now recognize the squad that took the ice against Montreal twice in three days. Heading into the series, Nathan Horton had scored just two goals on the season, and David Krejci had recorded just one point. Zdeno Chara had just one goal, which was the only goal the Bruins had received from its D corps. Rich Peverley had scored three goals, but two of those came in one game. Brad Marchand was famously fighting the weight of expectations and had scored just twice.
The Bruins three goals against Montreal came from Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin and Milan Lucic. Really, only Seguin and Lucic scored because Bergeron’s goal was the one Montreal center Tomas Plekanec flipped past goaltender Carey Price after winning a draw. Seguin’s goal was his fourth and Lucic’s was his third of the season. That was one of the Bruins’ biggest problems at the time, as they were just a two-man show offensively at that point of the season.
Now look at the Bruins. They’re a four-line scoring machine with plenty of offensive support from their defense. They’re second in the league in goals per game at 3.44, they’re the best in 5-on-5 differential (1.81) and they’re still limiting opponents to just 2.17 goals per game (fourth in the league), as of the start of games Sunday.
Read: Matt Kalman On CBSBoston
While Seguin is still on fire with 21 points and 11 goals, he’s not alone among Bruins skaters who are tormenting opposing goalies. Joe Corvo has at least a point in four of the last six games, Chris Kelly has 4-2-6 totals in his last four, Marchand has 4-7-11 totals in the last eight games, and Zdeno Chara has 1-10-11 totals in his last nine games, as he’s made jumped to the front of the pack in the early Norris Trophy polling.
The Canadiens might not recognize these Bruins players based on the turnaround in their respective performances. But the Bruins might not be that familiar with some of the Habs skaters because the injury bug has struck. Center Scott Gomez has returned from injury for Montreal since the last time the Bruins faced the Habs. However, the Habs won Saturday night’s game against the New York Rangers without veterans Hal Gill or Jaroslav Spacek on their back end due to injury. The Canadiens could continue to be shorthanded back there
Price has now logged 127 straight shutout minutes, so he’s on top of his game and the Bruins are going to be hard-pressed to hang a six-spot on him the way they have so many netminders lately.
B’s-Habs: Listen Live @ 6:30pm on WZLX
The challenge and Boston’s winning streak aside, the Canadiens are the only Northeast Division team the Bruins haven’t beaten this season. If they’re going to separate themselves from a pack of five divisional teams that were separated by just three points as of Sunday morning, they’re going to have to do everything they’ve done over the last couple weeks when they take the ice at the Bell Centre.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com. He operatesTheBruinsBlog.net and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on twitter @TheBruinsBlog.