Lucic: Montreal is Bruins 'biggest test of year'

Lucic: Montreal is Bruins 'biggest test of year'
December 5, 2013, 3:45 pm
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MONTREAL – If it always seems like the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens are vying with each other for first place in their division, it’s not your imagination. The Thursday night opening meeting of the season between the B’s and Habs at the Bell Centre will also be the fifth consecutive regular season game between the two rivals with first place on the line.

That covers all four meetings last season when the two Original Six club members were within a point of each other, and Thursday night’s game with the Bruins heading into Montreal leading the newly constructed Atlantic Division by a solitary point. It’s something that Bruins power forward Milan Lucic most definitely picked up on, but then again he’s a guy that always studies the numbers and the trends within the game.

They don’t call him the Bruins’ own “Bob McKenzie” for nothing, as he scouted a Montreal team that’s had good starts from Carey Price, P.K. Subban, Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec among others.

“They’re 7-0-1 in their last eight games, and now they’re a point behind us,” said Lucic, of Montreal. “It always seems to be one of this big games [against Montreal], and it’s no different tonight. There’s a lot to look forward to.

“I think this is probably our biggest test of the year coming into a tough building against a really good opponent playing its best hockey of the year. It’s going to be a really good test for us.”

The one thing heavily in Boston’s favor: the Bruins have enjoyed four days off after finishing off a stretch of eight games played in 13 days to finish off November, and the Habs are coming off a shootout win in New Jersey over the Devils last night. One would expect the game’s opening minutes to be doubly important as the Habs can’t count on having their best legs in the third period, and the Bruins will be hoping to take the NHL’s lustiest crowd out of the game early.

Though it’s a strange quirk of the NHL schedule that the Bruins and Habs didn’t renew their hatred until the month of December, that’s also allowed enough time for both to build up toward a two points worth fighting for in the division.