Here are five things you should know about the Bruins-Canadiens game at the Bell Centre on Tuesday (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).
It’s about time: Here we are in the dead of winter and this is the first time the Canadiens will face the Bruins this season. Normally, these fiercest of divisional rivals play four games each season, but they meet only three times with two of the games at the Bell Centre. These teams are at opposite ends of the Atlantic Division standings. The Bruins have the best record in the NHL by a wide margin at 37-5-4, have won nine of their last 10 and are riding a five-game win streak. The Canadiens are coming off an impressive 3-2 overtime win over Toronto Saturday, but are last in the division with a 20-24-3 record.
We have goalies: The Canadiens had three goaltenders on the ice for Monday’s practice, which is an indication that the nominal No. 1 netminder, Jake Allen, is getting close to a return. In his absence, Sam Montembeault has played like a No. 1 goaltender. He has made seven consecutive starts, posting a 4-3 record and he has improved his season record to 10-8-2 with a 3.15 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage. The third goaltender is Cayden Primeau, who will return to Laval after one period of NHL action.
Help from the farm: With leading goal-scorer Cole Caufield joining a long list of injured players, which includes fellow forwards Juraj Slafkovsky, Jonathan Drouin, Joel Armia, Jake Evans and Sean Monahan, the Canadiens turned to call-ups against the Leafs Saturday. Rafaël Harvey-Pinard scored the tying goal in the second period and Rem Pitlick, who has been up and down this season, replaced Caufield on the top line and scored the winner in overtime.
One-two punch in goal: On most teams, Jeremy Swayman would be the No. 1 goaltender, but he’s playing second fiddle to Linus Ullmark, a 29-year-old Swede who has come into his own after moving from Buffalo two years ago. Ullmark leads the NHL in goals-against average (1.82) and save percentage (.938) and has a 25-2-1 record. Swayman isn’t far behind with a 2.26 GAA which ranks fourth in the NHL, a .916 save percentage and an 11-3-3 record. The Bruins are the stingiest team in the league, allowing an average of 2.02 goals per game. The team with the next-best record is Dallas with a 2.54 GAA.
Being offensive: The Bruins also boast the No. 1 offence in the NHL. They are averaging 3.80 goals a game, which ties them with Buffalo for the top spot. David Pastrnak leads the way with 65 points, which ranks fourth in the NHL. He has 36 goals and the only player ahead of him in that department is Connor McDavid with 40. Patrice Bergeron, a five-time winner of the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward, has 17 goals. Brad Marchand is second in scoring with 44 points, including 15 goals. Other double-digit goal-scorers for the Bruins are Jake DeBrusk (16), former Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall (13), David Krejci (11) and Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederic with 10 each.
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