November 8 – Day 27 – Could there be any other?

Happy Tuesday! For me, that means band rehearsal, but you get to kick back and watch some hockey. You’ve picked the right night to do that, as there’s quite a selection of games to choose from, starting with five at 7 p.m. (Carolina at New Jersey, Vancouver at the New York Rangers, Detroit at Philadelphia, Edmonton at Pittsburgh and San Jose at Washington), followed half an hour later by two more (Los Angeles at Toronto [TVAS] and Boston at Montréal [RDS]). 8 p.m. marks the beginning of a couple more contests (Ottawa at Nashville [RDS2] and Dallas at Winnipeg), with Arizona at Colorado, this evening’s nightcap, dropping the puck an hour later. All times eastern.

I know we just watched them last night, but we’re going to hop on the Bruins‘ plane to Montréal to catch them take on the best team in the league in one of the best rivalries in North America.

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The last time these two met, Montréal upset the Bruins 4-2 in the TD Garden. Don’t think for a moment that Boston has forgotten.

These are two proud franchises, with 30 Stanley Cups between them, and the rivalry between requires no introduction.

As stated yesterday, the 7-5-0 Bruins‘ strength is found between the pipes and along the blue line. They have allowed 32 goals so far this season, led by 7-1-0 Tuukka Rask‘s .941 save percentage and 1.74 GAA. So good has Rask been that he’s earned two shutouts even when facing 29.7 shots per game, the 13th-fewest allowed by a team’s defense in the NHL.

While 13th is far from the top of the list, it is probably better than most would consider the Bruins‘ defense to be. So far this season, they’ve been led by Brandon Carlo and Zdeno Chara, who have 30 and 26 blocks respectively.

The defense has been especially good on the penalty kill, refusing to yield a goal on 84.3%  of opposing man-advantages, the ninth-best rate in the best hockey league in the world.

Their opposition this evening are the 10-1-1 Canadiens. While they’ve played fantastically so far on both ends of the ice, I’m most impressed with their offense, which has managed 39 goals in 12 games (3.25 per game).

Twenty Habs have notched a point so far this season (including goaltender Al Montoya!), but the two that have really stood out have been center Alex Galchenyuk and defenseman Shea Weber, who have 11 and 10 points respectively. In addition, Torrey Mitchell has struck five goals so far for Le Bleu-Blanc-Rouge to lead the club.

Some players to keep an eye on include Boston‘s Brad Marchand (14 points [tied for fourth-most in the league] on nine assists [tied for seventh-most in the NHL]), David Pastrnak (eight goals [tied for the league-lead] and a +11 [tied for sixth-best in the NHL]) and Rask (seven wins [tied for second-most in the league], two of which are shutouts [tied for third-most in the NHL], on a 1.74 GAA [fifth-best in the league] and .941 save percentage [sixth-best in the NHL]) & Montréal‘s Carey Price (.952 save percentage [second-best in the league] for a 1.57 GAA [fourth-best in the NHL] and seven wins [tied for second-most in the league], one of which was a shutout [tied for seventh-most in the NHL]) and Weber (+15 [leads the league]).

It looks like most books are closed in Vegas regarding this game, which should always get a hockey fan excited. What makes this matchup even more tantalizing is it’s location, as the Canadiens are a perfect 7-0-0 at the Bell Centre, but five of Boston‘s seven wins have been away from the TD Garden. It should be a good contest, but I’m leaning towards a Montréal victory.

Hockey Birthday

  • Johnny Bower (1924-) – Known in his day as “The China Wall,” Bower was the goaltender to win four of Toronto‘s 13 Stanley Cups. The two-time Vezina winner played 522 games over 15 seasons, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1976 with a career 250-195-90 record.
  • Keith Jones (1968-) – This right wing played 491 games over nine seasons, most of which were with Washington – the team that drafted him. Nowadays, Jones spends his days with the NBCSN studio crew and providing color and analysis for the Flyers‘ local broadcasts. Maybe Philadelphia will give him a victory over Detroit for his 48th.

Yesterday’s Game of the Day was our fourth-straight lopsided victory, as Boston beat Buffalo 4-0.

After a scoreless first period, Marchand (Pastrnak and Third Star of the Game Matt Beleskey) scored a power play wrister that proved to be the game-winner 5:44 into the middle frame.

Second Star David Krejci (Torey Krug and Ryan Spooner), Riley Nash and Pastrnak (Austin Czarnik and John-Michael Liles) accounted for the three insurance goals.

First Star Rask saved all 32 shots he faced to earn the shutout victory, while Robin Lehner saved 38-of-42 (90.5%) in the loss.

Boston‘s victory extends the home teams’ advantage to six points in the DtFR Game of the Day series with a record of 16-10-3.

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