Bruins at Canadiens
Claude Julien has not had an up-close look at his former team since he was fired by the Boston Bruins and hired by the Montreal Canadiens in a one-week span 13 months ago. Julien will have ample opportunity to get familiar with the Bruins, who will visit Montreal on Saturday in the first of three meetings between the teams in the next eight days.
Boston entered the league-mandated five-day break on a tear, riding an 11-game point streak (8-0-3) to move into second place in the Atlantic Division. “It’s so crucial for us to get out of the break and continue to play the way we did before the break,” captain Zdeno Chara said. “It’s big two weeks coming up, playing three times Montreal. Those are going to be very important games for us, very heated rivalry games, so we are looking forward to it.” The Canadiens also entered the break with a reason to feel good about their play, snapping a five-game losing streak by beating Tampa Bay in a shootout before mauling Vancouver. "It's going to be fun if we can get a few wins and get ourselves back closer and really put some pressure on those teams," forward Brendan Gallagher said.
TV: 7 p.m. ET; NHL Network, NESN (Boston), CBC, Sportsnet, TVAS (Montreal)
ABOUT THE BRUINS (23-10-7): Bruce Cassidy guided Boston to an 18-8-1 mark following Julien's ouster last season, and he owns a 41-18-8 mark since taking over behind the bench. Goaltender Tuukka Rask has more than twice as many losses as wins against Montreal (7-15-3) but he yielded only one goal in winning both starts against the Canadiens last season. Rask also is in sensational form with an 11-0-2 record since his last regulation loss on Nov. 26.
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (18-20-4): Julien replaced Artturi Lehkonen with rookie Charles Hudon alongside Jonathan Drouin and Alex Galchenyuk. “A lot of it is obviously when you look at the team we’re playing tomorrow, they got some pretty explosive guys up front," he said. "For me, I think it’s important to have some experienced guys that are going to play against those guys." Rookie defenseman Victor Mete was back with the team after winning gold at the world juniors.
1. Canadiens G Carey Price is bidding to win three straight starts for the first time since Nov. 25-Dec 2.
2. Bruins C Patrice Bergeon has six goals and two assists during a four-game point streak.
3. Canadiens F Ales Hemsky, out since Oct. 20 with a concussion, practiced in a non-contact jersey Friday.