Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bruins vs. Habs: Stuff to Look Out For

Not that a Boston-Montreal matchup needs any extra hype, but here are a few little plotlines to consider as we go into tonight's game:

Ryder's homecoming: Lost in all the pregame centennial hoopla will be the return of Michael Ryder to the BellForum. So far he's lived up to his hype (and contract) with 3 points in his first 2 games. More importantly Ryder has clicked with Marc Savard, as each of them has made a sweet dish to the other for a goal. There will be a lot of nerves prior to gametime, and probably a lot of heckling, but Ryder has been one of the Bruins' best players and has to show up in top form tonight.

Sobotka back in the lineup: Everybody knew that Vlad the Lesser deserved to make the big-league roster, so it might be a blessing in disguise that he was called up to replace Kobasew. Sobotka, like Kobie, adds a spark to the lineup that can jump-start the Bruins out of their mental hibernations. More importantly, I would expect him to be on the 4th line with Yelle and Thornton, meaning Milan Lucic will most likely be taking on a larger role.

[update: bruinshockeyblog reports that George Laraque will make his Habs debut tonight, and Carbonneau has stated more or less directly that the intention is to erase Lucic as a physical presence. This will be a major clash of muscle, and is pretty much guaranteed to lead to a punching contest sooner or later.]

The Habs are a bunch of pricks: They're bad enough under normal circumstances, but with a large pregame ceremony celebrating a full century of being poor winners, the Canadiens and their fans will have a little extra French in their system tonight. Look for guys like Kovalev and Lang, to whom obnoxiousness is precious fuel, to have a big game.

Sweet, sweet discipline: Though nobody will say it out loud, Andrew Alberts' tendency to jump out of position had a lot to do with his banishment to Philadelphia. The Wild had some success stretching the Boston defense and forcing them out of position, and the Habs would love to catch the Bruins playing a little pond hockey. The only way the B's win the game is by playing smart, disciplined defense... keep an eye on Matt Hunwick to cause a few skipped heartbeats.

The odds are on our side: The Bruins haven't won a game in Quebec in nearly two calendar years. Tonight will be either their 100th victory or their 200th loss in Montreal. The laws of probability favor victory for the Bruins on several fronts, though probability has never been much of a factor in this rivalry.

Other preview action:
the-jumbotron has a pre-game primer including all the French you should ever need to know.

Stanley Cup of Chowder has some fun link action and vids.

Inside the Den has a nice piece on Michael Ryder's return to Montreal.

WickedBruinsFan makes it all seem very easy to understand.

The Bear Cave has all the stats you can handle, fool.

The Big Bad Bruins is having marriage problems.

Cornelius Hardenberg teaches a life lesson at the end of the post, not unlike G.I. Joe.

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