The Montreal Canadiens rivalry with the Boston Bruins resumes tonight in a match-up that has both teams facing a very similar opponent.
Montreal and Boston are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games. They are closely matched in almost all statistical categories, including the very important division record.
In the tightly contested Northeast, come the post-season, this could mean the difference in making the playoffs or securing home ice advantage.
But that’s just the beginning of the similarities.
Montreal winger Alex Tanguay and Boston center Phil Kessel each lead their teams with seven goals. Habs captain Saku Koivu is tied with Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference for the fifth best +/- ratio in the league at +9. Koivu also has a virtually identical face off win percentage with Boston's Patrice Bergeron, good for top 10 in the NHL.
The match up in goal is even more interesting.
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas is backing up last year's all-star game nomination by leading the league in goals against average and save percentage.
The only goalie that seems to be able to steal Thomas’ spotlight is Montreal phenom Carey Price. His play this year has somehow overshadowed the Boston netminder’s spectacular numbers.
It might even earn Price the starting spot in this year’s all-star game.
The Canadiens have been winning or losing according to their goaltenders performances, and Price has been the pillar of Montreal's great results.
But what has not been comparable, is Montreal and Boston's head to head record. The Habs are enjoying a stunning 12 game regular season win streak against their division rivals.
The Bruins came close to ending the streak in their first meeting with Montreal on October 12th. After falling behind 3-0 in the first period, Boston fought back to tie it in the third, but ended up losing in the shootout.
Boston seems to have the advantage judging by their recent results. They have won four in a row and Tim Thomas has been red hot. Montreal, however is the monkey on their back and the Bruins know it will be a hard one to shake.