If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
That’s the approach coach Michel Therrien is taking as the Canadiens prepare to face the rival Boston Bruins Thursday night at the TD Garden (7 p.m., TSN-HABS, RDS, TSN Radio 690).
The Canadiens held a short, but brisk, 30-minute workout in Brossard Wednesday morning before departing for Beantown and the indications were that Therrien will stick with the same lineup that produced a 3-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.
“We changed the momentum with that win (and) we want to keep the ball rolling,” Therrien said. “This morning, I thought the guys had a lot of jump, so we want to bring that spirit to Thursday’s game. Every time we play the Bruins it’s always fun, especially with the rivalry over the years. It should be fun.”
The Montreal-Boston rivalry, which has been forged by years of playoff competition, is akin to the Montreal-Toronto rivalry. It doesn’t matter which team is ahead in the standings, the competition is fierce.
The Bruins are currently in first place in the Atlantic Division with a 10-point bulge over the fourth-place Canadiens, but Montreal won the first meeting between these teams last month at the Bell Centre. And while the Bruins are an impressive 20-5-2 at home this season, the Canadiens are not intimidated at the prospect of playing in Boston. Since 2000, Montreal has a 21-13-4 regular-season record in Boston.
“It was good to get the win against the Hurricanes,” said David Desharnais, whose line provided two goals against Carolina. “We’re feeling more confident that we can play a solid game. We always tend to play well at TD Garden. There’s a good rivalry between us.”
The rivalry has often been a bitter one and Therrien and his Boston counterpart, Claude Julien, will be preaching discipline. In recent years, the Canadiens have taken advantage of Boston penalties to punish the Bruins on the power play.
Therrien said things will be a bit different this season because the Canadiens have added some size.
“We’ve got a physical presence,” the coach said. “Douglas Murray makes his presence felt on defence and we have George Parros, too. We’ve got some guys with size and speed. Every time we face the Bruins, both teams are ready to play, and I know that my team is going to be ready to play.”
Parros returned to the lineup Tuesday after a three-game absence and showed he can do more than fight. He was solid for a season-high seven minutes against the Hurricanes, but Parros might have to use his pugilistic skills in Boston, where he will find willing adversaries in Adam McQuaid and Shaun Thornton.
Therrien made some adjustments for the Carolina game and one of the biggest was returning Lars Eller to centre on a line with Brandon Prust and Rene Bourque.
“It was good to be back there,” Eller said. “Our line produced a goal and we had some other chances.”
Therrien said he decided to use Eller at centre because the Hurricanes have some size down the middle with brothers Eric and Jordan Staal. But it was the Canadiens’ smaller centres who enjoyed the most success in the faceoff circle on a night when Montreal won 56 per cent of the draws.
Eller, the Canadiens’ most successful faceoff performer this season, won only 44 per cent of his draws. Desharnais, the smallest centre, won 13 of 18 draws (72 per cent), while Tomas Plekanec was at 61 per cent, and they were a combined 18 of 29 against the Staals.
The win over Carolina snapped a four-game losing streak for the Canadiens, who will have three games over the next four days. They are at home to play Tampa Bay Saturday afternoon and Winnipeg the following day.
But Therrien cautioned his team against focusing on opponents and looking ahead.
“We’ve got to focus on playing our game,” the coach said. “We’re in a part of the schedule where every game is crucial. We have to take it one game at a time, live in the moment, and make sure that we’re ready.”
Defenceman Andrei Markov took a therapy day Wednesday, but will play in Boston, while Carey Price — coming off his 36-save shutout — will start in goal.
And the defence corps added some depth as Davis Drewiske practised with his teammates for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery. Drewiske hasn’t been cleared to play, but did accompany the team to Boston.
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