First of all, did anyone watch the NHL Rivals feature last night on NBCSN that was about the Bruins-Habs rivalry? Well, you should have. Even though we all know about the 1971 Ken Dryden heroics and the brawls that the two franchises have shared, but you can easily forget about all the stuff pre 2008 because of all that’s happened in the rivalry in the past 6 years.
Tonight, we’re all jacked up. We’re coming off of Sochi, so we hate Canada, and the fuckin frenchies boo our national anthem. They call the cops AFTER the NHL didn’t suspend a guy, because they obviously think that law enforcement is on the same level as the NHL disciplinary committee. Makes total sense. And they still are the Habs. No one likes them.
So it’s hard to remember that this is just a regular season game, and that the Habs can’t even start their top goalie for a Sochi rematch of Tuukka and Carey. Price is still out with pussyitis (ok, fine, it’s hard to call the Olympic winning goalie a pussy). The B’s are still going to win the division, so this game matters more for the number 1 seed in the East more than it matters for the rivalry itself.
In the department of things that annoy us a lot, Claude is still sitting Dougie Hamilton for an unknown reason. They’re saying that Hamilton is a healthy scratch just like anyone who is the 7th defenseman for a team would be a healthy scratch, but I really don’t think that Claude is dumb enough to think that Hamilton is worse than Meszaros, Bartkowski, and, most of all, Miller. I really hope not. Look at extraskater’s stats on Bruins defensemen, and it’s pretty clear that Kevan Miller is the worst of the 7. Like, it’s not a question.
There are two reasons that Claude might have for benching Hamilton here, other than stupidity. (I question Claude’s moves sometimes, but I really don’t think he’s stupid enough to believe that Miller is better than Hamilton.) The first is just rest, because this is Hamilton’s first 82 game season. The problem is that he played 32 games in the juniors last year, and then he played a few in the playoffs, so it’s not like he hasn’t played close to this much in a season before. Also, they just came off the Olympic break.
The second reason, which I would be ok with for a few games, is because they want to see how well Meszaros plays with Chara. Meszaros played the right side, and that was supposedly a big reason for Chiarelli wanting to acquire him. They’re trying to see if he can take Seidenberg’s spot, and that’s cool with me. It would allow them to put Boychuk with either Krug or Bartkowski and Hamiton with whichever guy Boychuk isn’t with. I’d still rather have had Claude bench Miller and put Hamilton in his spot for these few games in order to give Mez time with Chara, but fine. But I believe, and really want to believe, that Claude isn’t this dumb.
Tonight, we see Vanek for the first time in the Habs uniform. He scares all of us because he always does well against the B’s, and because the Habs are already a tough matchup. In fact, the Habs are the team I’d least want the B’s to face in the playoffs, no matter how fun beating them would be. A win is a win, and I don’t want to see the Habs. That’s why getting the 1 seed is important, because whoever finishes 4th in the Atlantic division will clearly be the 7th and not the 8th seed, meaning the B’s would avoid any chance of facing them in the first round if they can beat out Pittsburgh.
As for tonight, let’s hope for another goalie fight. We all know that Tuukka Rask would beat the piss out of Peter Budaj.