MONTREAL, QC - It’s the fourth and final meeting between the rival Bruins and Canadiens this year - and there’s no better time for the top spot in the Northeast to be on the line, yet again, as we head into the final quarter of the season.
"Well, I have to wait and see. I heard it’s pretty good," Jaromir Jagr smiled, as he talked to reporters this morning about the Boston-Montreal rivalry.
"It’s always good for hockey, and especially this year, with both teams are playing really well. And It’s a game for first place, so it’s going to be even more interesting."
Prior to the match-up, the Bruins held a well-attended “optional” skate at the Bell Centre this morning, with only Andrew Ference staying off the ice. Chris Kelly did join the B’s for the second straight day, but stayed on for extra work with the assistant coaches and Wade Redden after the rest of the Bruins exited the ice.
Coach held his media availability right at the start of the 11:30 a.m. pregame skate, and said that Kelly had not yet graduated to “game-time decision” and was still “day-to-day.” Once the center exited the ice, he confirmed to media that he would not be in the lineup tonight.
With Redden staying on for extra time, it appears the back end will remain the same heading into tonight against Montreal. Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off, as Anton Khudobin stayed on for extra time, so it looks like No. 40 will get the start (though the starting goaltender was not confirmed by Coach).
As such, here is the projected lineup for tonight:
On the opposing side, the Canadiens did not hold a morning skate at the Bell Centre, but practiced at their facility in Brossard. Per the Canadiens’ website, here were the lines during their skate. Plekanec is a game-time decision (groin injury), while P.K. Subban had a maintenance day and will be in Montreal’s lineup tonight.
Carey Price is expected to be between the pipes.
-Caryn Switaj ^CS
WILMINGTON, MA - Practices, aside from pregame skates, have been few and far between this season, but today’s was an important one, as new Bruins Jaromir Jagr, Kaspars Daugavins and defenseman Wade Redden (who skated with the team today for the first time) took part in their first practice with the B’s at Ristuccia Arena.
The B’s had their skating legs today in practice, which ran for just under an hour, as the new-look lines with Jagr and Daugavins worked on their chemistry, and the team prepared for their next game against the rival Canadiens in Montreal on Saturday night.
There were no changes to lines from Thursday night’s 1-0 shutout of New Jersey, and although Chris Kelly is not yet back in the lineup, it was nice to see him sporting the grey jersey once again in his first practice with the team at Ristuccia (he joined the B’s for pregame skate at TD Garden Thursday morning).
Grey: Pandolfo-Peverley-Daugavins, Kelly
Merlot: Paille-Campbell-Thornton, Caron
With Redden on the ice, the B’s had eight defensemen practicing. Defensive pairings looked the same as the Thursday’s game as well, with Chara-Hamilton, Ference-Seidenberg and Bartkowski-Boychuk, and Redden/Johnson rounding out the fourth pair.
Adam McQuaid skated on his own yet again with Strength & Conditioning Coach John Whitesides before the B’s took the ice for practice - a positive sign in his recovery, though he’ll be staying back in Boston as the Bruins travel to Montreal. Though Coach Julien postpractice did tell media that he is progressing well and could be expected to join the team on the ice as early as next week.
On another positive note, Chris Kelly will be making the trip to Canada and Coach has now labeled him as “day-to-day” as he recovers from the broken left tibia he suffered on March 11 in Ottawa that originally had him out indefinitely. Kelly will be joining his former Senators teammate Wade Redden, who he was happy to be reunited with in the spoked-B. After practice, Kelly talked about the veteran presence now on the B’s, with three players who have played over 1,000 games (Chara, Jagr, Redden).
In a nice gesture towards the end of the skate, the B’s summoned Redden to lead the center-ice stretch - something indicative of the respect on this team and how quickly the new faces are being assimilated into the team.
For locker room quotes from Wade Redden, Kaspars Daugavins, Chris Kelly, Shawn Thornton, and Coach Julien following practice, be sure to stay tuned today to the Bruins Blog, BostonBruins.com and on Twitter @NHLBruins.
See you in Montreal, where the Bruins (52 points) and Canadiens (53 points) will once again (deja vu) be battling for the top spot in the Northeast as both teams sit only one point apart in the standings.
Note: In case you haven’t seen on the roster, Wade Redden will be wearing No. 6 with the B’s. Jagr is No. 68 and Daugavins, No. 16.
-Caryn Switaj ^CS
BOSTON, MA - The Bruins were back together at TD Garden Wednesday morning for pregame skate, following Tuesday’s off day, in preparation for their third meeting on the season against the Canadiens tonight at 7:30 p.m. (ET).
Yet again, the two teams will be battling for first place in the Northeast Division, as both currently sit tied at the top with 45 points.
Pregame skate saw lines switched up again, but the biggest change was defenseman Johnny Boychuk back skating with the team for the first time since taking a puck off the skate last Friday (March 22) during practice in Ottawa. He had been termed day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
No. 55 started out the pregame skate paired with Zdeno Chara during rushes (a good sign, to say the least), and afterwards, Coach Julien gave an update.
"Uncertain," said Coach on Boychuk’s status. "He’s going to be reevaluated today and, so far, he hasn’t been cleared, until he’s been reevaluated here."
Coach was also asked if he had an update on Chris Kelly (out indefinitely with broken left tibia), and said he has yet to start skating so “until he’s on his skates it’s hard to say, or give you a time frame.”
Besides the welcome surprise of seeing Boychuk back on the ice, the B’s left wings were again swapped this morning, as Milan Lucic was back with David Krejci and Nathan Horton (how they ended the final seven minutes of Monday’s win), and Brad Marchand was skating alongside Rich Peverley and Jordan Caron.
Here were the rushes:
Tuukka Rask was first off at morning skate, so I’ll expect him to be between the pipes tonight coming off the 3-2 shootout win over Toronto on Monday night. Anton Khudobin also gave Rask some rest over the weekend, playing Thursday and Saturday, so hopefully No. 40 can carry that into tonight.
Stay tuned to BostonBruins.com for features stories and our pregame Bruins Beat heading into tonight’s match-up…
-Caryn Switaj ^CS