BOSTON – After a full day off in Boston on Sunday following a big win in Toronto on Saturday night, the Canadiens were back in action on Monday with a morning skate at TD Garden ahead of their game against the Bruins. All players were on the ice for practice.
The Canadiens will face the NHL’s hottest team on Monday with the Bruins cruising into the tilt riding a league-best 12-game win streak. On the ride to the airport following their game at the ACC, the Habs were closely following the Bruins-Coyotes game as Boston erased a 3-2 deficit in the desert, giving the Canadiens a chance to play the role of spoilers on Monday night.
“I don’t know if I was cheering for them but it certainly is nice,” mentioned Brendan Gallagher, who has three points in three games against Boston this season. “Right now we know they’re the best team and the hottest team in the National Hockey League so it’s a challenge for us. We certainly feel like we’re up for that challenge. It’s just about us showing up and playing our game and doing the things we need to do to give ourselves a good chance. For us to show up and put together a good effort and play well in this building is going to be fun for us.”
Resetting the Bruins’ victory clock to zero may be a happy by-product of a win at TD Garden, but Michel Therrien has a bigger picture in mind heading into Monday’s game against the division rivals, who have already clinched a spot in the postseason.
“There’s a big difference between winning 12 games in a row in November and doing it in March while teams are battling for playoff spots. That’s what impresses me the most about their streak,” admitted the Canadiens’ coach, whose own troops are in the hunt to usurp Tampa for the second seed in the division with a win in Boston and a Lightning loss against the Senators “Honestly, we’re not thinking about the streak. We’re thinking about us fighting to make the playoffs. We’re a group that’s going to battle until the end. It’s not about the Bruins, it’s about us.”
Despite leaving Saturday’s game early with a lower body injury, Lars Eller skated with his teammates for practice in Boston. After joining the big club in Toronto for the trip to Boston, Michael Bournival was also back on the ice following a conditioning stint in Hamilton. Both forwards will be game-time decisions on Monday night.
“I feel good. It was good to be able to play some games with the Bulldogs. It was also really good for my confidence,” shared Bournival, who missed 11 games with a concussion before racking up two goals and an assist with the Bulldogs last week. “It reinforced that I can play in games, which are obviously different than practices. I had a few good tests there. I was hit a few times and had no symptoms. We followed proper protocol and I’m confident the concussion is behind me.”
Peter Budaj will get his 22nd start of the season on Monday night. The Slovak netminder will look to build on his 4-2-0 career record against Boston, boasting a .911 save percentage and 2.64 goals-against average against the Bruins.
“It’s a challenge not just for Peter but for all our players and we love giving our players a challenge,” explained Therrien, who has started Budaj in two of the team’s three games against Boston this season. “One of the reasons Peter will be in net tonight is because we want to share the load among our goaltenders. We made the decision that Peter would be in action tonight.”
The Canadiens currently lead the season series against the Bruins 2-1 and can finish with a winning record if they can snap the Bruins’ streak and leave Boston with a victory on Monday.
Lines and D pairings at practice
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