Bruins, Habs Battling for Top of East
B's ready for a rivalry match-up tonight vs Montreal, with both teams in the midst of back-to-backs
"I think we knew it was a big weekend for us playing some big teams, but we also know that every game is important," said alternate captain Patrice Bergeron pregame. "Starting on the right foot yesterday was key, and now we're looking forward to playing Montreal. You look at the standings and we're tied, so it's definitely going to be a big battle tonight."
Both teams come into tonight with 30 points in the standings - a familiar tale, as the two rivals battled for the top spot in the Northeast last time around in Montreal on February 6. The B's edged the Habs in that match-up, 2-1, thanks to two quick strikes early in the third period, after a line switch by Coach Julien sparked the team.
Since then, Boston has played fewer games, and heads into tonight having played three less games (18) than Montreal (21). But the compact upcoming stretch - including the back-to-back - is welcomed by a Bruins team trying to get ahead in the standings.
"If you look at the amount of games we've played, we need to win them," said Bergeron. "It's games in hand, but it doesn't mean anything if you don't do the job. That's the way we approach it, and tonight is no different."
"Same thing, a tight game, a tough game to play, and a fun game to be a part of," added Bergeron, on expecting another tight-matchup like the game in Montreal. "It's always fun battles against Montreal, but it's always tough games. It's going to be a big, 60-minute effort that we're going to need tonight in order to come out on top."
The full-60 consistency will certainly be a challenge, with two games in two days, but having faced it before, the Black & Gold know what preparations they need to be at their best tonight.
"First, focus on recovery," Gregory Campbell told media this morning, on the approach heading into a back-to-back. "We knew this was going to be a difficult time of the season for us."
"Coaching staff always does a good job at using the whole bench and making sure that everybody has enough rest and making us aware of the fact that there’s really nothing we can do about the schedule."
"It’s something we were dealt, we did a good job at getting points early on and now’s the time that we know it’s going to be tough. It’s something that we have to deal with and it’s just the way the schedule is made and this is a huge game tonight."
"I’m used to it, that’s what you do in junior hockey," said defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who did not skate this morning - and is not too far removed from the compact junior hockey schedule in the OHL. "So I’m used to that. Just, for me, at this point it’s about rest. With the schedule coming up you just stay off the ice when you can so you’ll be fresh for tonight."
A positive the B's can draw on, is their come-from-behind effort last night to pull out the two points, even if it took until the last three minutes of the game to earn the 3-2 win.
"With 40 minutes left we still felt that we had it in us, didn’t stray away from the game plan and we stuck with it.," said Coach Julien during his pregame press conference at TD Garden. "Those are things that really made us, or put us where we are right now, is the fact that we stuck with it."
"We just seem to want to go out there and outwork other teams. That’s been our success from day one, we have good players, but we don’t stand a chance if we’re not willing to outwork other teams."
And that toughness is something the Bruins will look to bring tonight against a tough Habs team.
"I think they’re playing with a lot of energy. They seem to be really motivated this year, they seem excited, they seem committed – all the things that a successful team has to have," said Coach Julien.
"Whether it’s the change of upper management, whether it’s the acquisitions that they made. They’re a good team. I know for a fact, if you take yesterday’s game out – it was a run and gun type of game, a lot of goals scored, I should say – they’ve been really solid, they’ve played really good hockey. We know what we’re up against, nobody has to tell us."