The Canadiens:

Are clearly trying to get Carey Price into a rhythm early. In the last month of last season he edged away from the solid pace he’d set the first two thirds of the season. Douglas Murray, Jarred Tinordi, and Darren Dietz are all auditioning for defensive partners and call up priority. The forward group stretches the definition of NHL veteran just a tiny bit by including “puncher” Nick Tarnasky who last set foot in the NHL in the 2009-10 season and Ryan White has a similar PIMs to Points ratio. Max Pacioretty who led the team in scoring in the regular season and was badly battered in the playoffs is back on the ice. Most of the rest are late round picks, and undrafted players.

Goalies:

  • 31- Carey Price
    65- Robert Mayer

Defensemen:

  • 6- Douglas Murray
    24- Jarred Tinordi
    26- Josh Gorges
    55- Francis Bouillon
    76- P.K. Subban
    84- Darren Dietz

Forwards:

  • 32- Travis Moen
  • 37- Gabriel Dumont
  • 45- Michael Blunden
  • 48- Daniel Brière
  • 51- David Desharnais
  • 53- Ryan White
  • 60- Christian Thomas
  • 67- Max Pacioretty
  • 71- Louis Leblanc
  • 72- Nick Tarnasky
  • 75- Charles Hudon
  • 86- Stefan Fournier

Boston Bruins:

While most observers expect Johnson to be the backup to starter Tuukka Rask in Boston at least to start the season, the job won’t be handed to him if he isn’t at least adequate. Adam McQuaid will be in the novel position of the most veteran defenseman on the Bruins roster, in fact he’ll have more NHL experience than all of the other blueliners combined. Ben Youds is an undrafted, right shooting Minnesota born college alumni. The forward group is very interesting. New to the team are Jarome Iginla and Matt Fraser, Rob Flick and Carl Soderberg both joined the roster late last season. Craig Cunningham, Alex Fallstrom, Ryan Spooner, and Anthony Camara are all prospects that will be looking to make the team

Goalies:

  • Chad Johnson
  • Malcolm Subban

Defensemen:

  • Matt Bartkowski
  • Tommy Cross
  • Torey Krug
  • Adam McQuaid
  • Kevan Miller
  • Zach Trotman
  • Ben Youds

Forwards:

  • Anthony Camara
  • Craig Cunningham
  • Alex Fallstrom
  • Rob Flick
  • Matt Fraser
  • Jarome Iginla
  • Nick Johnson
  • David Krejci
  • Milan Lucic
  • Daniel Paille
  • Carl Soderberg
  • Ryan Spooner
  • Shawn Thornton

Anyone expecting much out of this game is delusional. At best you can expect a few mights, the Habs fighters are answered by Shawn Thornton, and Milan Lucic, Anthony Camara while not large has dropped the gloves a few times, and even Ryan Spooner warned New England Hockey Journal’s Kirk Luedeke not to leave him off the list:

Ryan Spooner chastises Kirk Luedeke for leaving him off the fighters list. from twitter

Ryan Spooner chastises Kirk Luedeke for leaving him off the fighters list.

The Bruins have a six game road trip on which they can hope to correct the course. They’ve been playing .500 hockey for weeks. In the locker room they have two new faces. The first being small defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk who the Bruins drafted in 2006. The same draft gave them Milan Lucic and Bodnarchuk’s roommate and friend Brad Marchand. The other is another member of the 2003 draft class, drafted by the Senators, Josh Hennessy. Hennessyis a Brockton, Massachusetts native who has been toiling in the AHL for most of the years since he was drafted. He was picked two slots above Patrice Bergeron, he played 20 NHL games with the Senators and 39 games in the Swiss A league Luguno. Realistically the Bruins need to win four of the six games, but all of them are winnable games if they play well.

Game 1: Montreal Canadiens

On paper the Bruins should win this game handily. Unfortunately for the Bruins the team has piled up most of its losses this season to teams under .500. On top of that between the Candiens and Bruins the standings and records are almost always meaningless anyway. Big body and possible trade piece Travis Moen is questionable for the game.

Game 2: Winnipeg Jets

Evander Kane has emerged as a force this season. Blake Wheeler broke out of his early season slump. Dustin Byfugelin is back and healthy. Add in Ondrej Pavelec you have a goalie that can steal games single handedly. A team that’s fast and capable of the rough stuff. They are seven points out of the Southeast division lead, and the coach has publicly asked for help. They are also four points out of fifth.

Game 3: Minnesota Wild

The Wild have played less games than a lot of the teams ahead of them but are likely to be sellers at the deadline. Marek Zidlicky was heavily rumored to be on the market and having waived his NTC to go to New Jersey, but his friend Patrick Elias denied this around mid day. Expect to see a watered down version of this team on the 19th. It’s highly doubtful there defense or goaltending will be weak, and Clutterbuck and Koivu are almost certain to be on the ice and that means this is not going to be a gimmie.

Game 4: St Louis Blues

This will almost certainly be a goaltenders duel. The Bruins and Blues both have aggressive forechecks and solid defense. David Perron and Andy McDonald are each at different stages of recovery in their return from concussions, both can be potent offensive forces when they can keep an upbeat tempo. Today finds them five points out of the first in the Central division, with two games in hand.

Game 5: Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres are playing well (finally) and this is the second revenge game of the season. The first one was after the Lucic-Miller collision. This one follows the debacle that ended in a six nothing beat down by the Sabres. Patrice Bergeron was one ticked off Bruin, I doubt anyone will have forgotten this one. The Sabres are one point off the basement of the conference, but several have jobs to play for and some pride.

Game 6: Ottawa Senators

Today the Senators are in seventh, with four points on eighth and five on ninth. Unfortunately for the faithful in the Canadian Capital the Senators played more games than anyone in the east. Anderson is playing more consistently and the team is pretty healthy. What the Senators will look like on the 25th when they meet in Ottawa is a good question, if they will look the same three days later when the two meet in Boston is another good question.

Some people will look at the recent fight filled hockey games by the Bruins against the Dallas Stars and the Montreal Canadiens and conclude that the Boston Bruins are just a bunch of goons. This is a bit hard to support since few teams composed of goons manage to be near the top of the goals for and against categories. Both require discipline and the Bruins possess both.

What separates the Dallas game and the Montreal game is pretty simple. The Dallas game comes from how similar the two teams are, and how similar their positions were, plus a general dislike. The Montreal game is as much about the rivalry as it is about the difference between the teams. The Habs have traditionally been fast moving, smooth skating team with small forwards. The Bruins have been built with punishing forwards and defense for decades.

In the Dallas game, the guys to drop the gloves were, for lack of a more convenient cliche, the usual suspects. Shawn Thornton, Adam McQuaid, and Gregory Campbell have the lions share of Boston’s fighting majors this season. Combined the three have 31 fighting majors. I’d be willing to bet that Thornton has more points than anyone else with as many fighting majors, and both Campbell and McQuaid spend a healthy chunk of time on the Bruins effective penalty kill, so labeling any of them pure goons demonstrates a slight lack of information. In the Dallas game, the fighting also started from the word go as each team, then both were division leaders set out to show they would not be run out of the building.

The Montreal game is simply the continuation of North America’s greatest sports rivalry. The two teams had played three times previously, and there had been a lot of chippy play and big hits. The two teams as a rule bring out the best and worst in each other, PJ Axellson had two fights in one night against the Canadiens which I think were two thirds of his career total. David Krejci has both of his NHL fights against Montreal this year, both times with guys who were having their first NHL fights Michael Cammaleri and David Desharnais.

In last nights game, the fighting was up and down the roster. the goalies had a “fight”, the Moen, Pyatt, Pouliot, Hamrlik for the Canadiens, and Thornton, Mcquaid, Ference,  Boychuck, for the Bruins. One should not lose sight of who started the nastiness. Price repeatedly cross-checked Lucic including leaving the crease to do so. Pacioretty went after the still healing nose of Kampfer, and Weber tossed Marchand into his own goalie. If Canadiens fans, and certain national journalists are upset by the game (in which the Bruins had less penalty minutes) they should look no further than the bench, or possibly behind the bench of the bleu, blanc, and rouge. They walked into a cave and slapped a bear in the face.