By Joe Haggerty
MONTREAL With all of the Brad Marchand Habs bashing there was a worthy distraction away from Tuesday nights game at the Bell Centre, but it in fact a gigantic game in the standings.With a win the Bruins would pull seven points ahead of the Montreal Canadiens in the Northeast Division, and essentially lay a claim on the crown for the second time in two years. They also might pull into a tie with the Philadelphia Flyers as top seed in the Eastern Conference standings.All fighting, slew-foots and heated rivalries aside, its an important game for both teams that should be bring out the best rather than the worst with a first round matchup in the playoffs possible.Last game here we had a two-goal lead in the last three minutes that we blew before losing it 3-2, said coach Claude Julien. Besides that last game, I think both teams have stabilized themselves defensively and its the pride of our team.When we play well defensively that usually provides better offensive chances for our team, and thats how weve always approached it. Tuukka Rask took a blast from Dennis Seidenberg in the collarbone area in the final minutes of practice, and gunned his stick over the boards and deep into the stands in pretty clear frustration.Hes fine, said Julien. Assistant coach Doug Houda caught it as a souvenir. Tim Thomas appeared to take a shot to his right glove hand during practice, and was spotted shaking his left hand and recoiling a bit in pain toward the end of practice at the Bell Centre. Barring any serious problem it appeared thatThomas will get the start against the Canadiens on Tuesday night.Thomas is a goaltender that acknowledges maybe his style of play in goal is more tiring than others, said Thomas. I dont want him playing 70 games. At one point you could sense him getting tired a little bit, and Tuukka Rask took over for a while there.Then you could see Timmy come back in better shape with more energy. Its really paid off. Zdeno Chara was not on the ice for practice with the rest of his Bruins teammates, but it appeared to be nothing more than a veteran option for a player late in the regular season. Mark Recchi and Patrice Bergeron were both with the Bruins for their morning skate, and it appeared both would be fully ready to go against the Canadiens. Tyler Seguin was the last forward off the ice, and it looks like hell be scratched in favor of Daniel Paille.