The Montreal Canadiens will be put to the test tonight as they welcome one of their most hated rivals to town, the Boston Bruins. The Bruins currently sit only one point ahead of the Canadiens at the top of the Northeast Division.
This will be the first opportunity for the Habs to showcase some of their off-season changes. Since the start of this young season, head coach Michel Therrien has been trying to transition the Habs into a tough team to play against, especially at home.
Therrien had to make a decision as to which centreman he would go with on his fourth line. After the way Lars Eller played this weekend in back-to-back home games against the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators, Therrien said he had no choice but to go with Eller
"I had no explanation to give to Eller as to why he was not going to play tonight," said Therrien.
With the Bruins missing Brad Marchand, Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton from the lineup, it makes sense for the Habs to go with a higher skilled player rather than a tough guy. Ryan White will return to the line up sometime this week.
Special teams are always a key factor in any hockey game but tonight, the Canadiens power play unit will have to work extra hard. The Bruins penalty kill is ranked second in the league, only allowing two power play goals this season, none of them coming on the road.
Goals on the power play are obviously important but that is not the only thing.
"We don't need to score every time but we need to create momentum on the power play," Therrien mentioned following the morning skate.
Expected lines for tonight:
Pacioretty - Desharnais - Cole
Bourque - Plekanec - Gionta
Prust - Galchenyuk - Gallagher
Moen - Eller - Armstrong
Markov - Emelin
Gorges - Diaz
Bouillon - Subban
Pacioretty - Desharnais - Cole - Markov - Diaz
Bourque - Plekanec - Gionta - Bouillon - Subban
Eller, Galchenyuk and Gallagher had some practice time on the man advantage as well. Depending on how the game goes, Therrien might want to give his young guys some playing time.