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Preview; Bruins battle to retain first place when they host Habs

February 9, 2011

The Bruins, well rested having not played since Saturday, will host the Montreal Canadiens tonight in one of the first truly crucial games of the stretch run. The Bruins still hold a game in hand against the Canadiens but tonight’s game is a four-point swing that could go a long way in separating the Bruins from the Habs.

Tonight will mark the post-Savard era, at least officially. Marc Savard hasn’t played in a game since January 22nd but his season was shut down for sure Tuesday afternoon. Jordan Caron has been called up in his place. Caron, along with Zach Hamill and Tyler Seguin, have brought a youth movement that will be crucial down the stretch, one way or the other. The young guns could either bring some fresh NHL legs to the lineup or they could simply be AHLers playing above their heads.

Both teams had three-game winning streaks broken in their last outings, the Bruins losing to the Sharks 2-0 on Saturday and the Habs losing 4-1 to the Devils on Sunday. The Bruins also must worry about their anemic power-play, which hasn’t scored since Savard’s injury. The Bruins have moved some parts around on the power-play in efforts to find a replacement quarterback. Both the Bruins and Canadiens penalty-kills are team strengths with the Habs leading by one spot at 84.7% and the Bruins just .1% behind.

The Canadiens have won all three of the previous games against the Bruins this season, winning two in regulation and one in overtime. If the Bruins want to make an early statement in the playoff race, they need to take tonight’s game in regulation and get some separation on their hated rivals.

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