October 26, 2011

Piling up points B's lone objective against rival Habs

Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara decks Canadiens captain Brian Gionta. (Getty)

WILMINGTON – An upcoming home-and-home series with the Canadiens is a battle the Bruins hope brings out the best in them, but it’s not like they haven’t been down this road already this season.

Over the course of the first eight games, the Bruins have fared well against teams they’ve had a wealth of reasons to be amped up to play.

Against the previous winners of the Stanley Cup, the Chicago Blackhawks, Boston earned a 3-2 shootout win at United Center and avoided suffering their third-straight loss. With detestable Phil Kessel and the Leafs in town, the Bruins exploded with six goals in a runaway victory.

The B’s know full well they’ll need to find more consistency and can’t stay in the hunt by solely beating squads that present mounds of motivation. Nevertheless, back-to-back tilts with the Habs should bode well for a team looking to turn things around after a 3-5-0 start to the campaign.

“It’s going to be a big game,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said after Wednesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena. “These are always big games, not even just for the rivalries, but for the standings. They’re two big games for both teams.”

Things haven’t exactly gone smoothly for Montreal so far, either. The Canadiens have earned just four points in the first eight games of the year, as their 1-5-2 record has them dead last in the Eastern Conference.

David Krejci expects both squads to come in hungry for a win.

“It’s going to be the same thing on our side,” the center said when asked about Montreal’s desperation. “We want to be way better than we are, so it’s going to be a good battle tomorrow.”

With a bulk of their games taking place at home in the first two months of the season, the Bruins certainly haven’t capitalized on such a precious opportunity to get off on the right foot. The B’s have been victorious just twice in six tilts at TD Garden, something they hope to improve on come Thursday night.

“We have to,” Krejci said. “The building is going to be going all crazy and the fans are going to be behind us. We have to bring our ‘A’ game. It’s going to be intense and an emotional game, but we’ve got to be ready and play to win.”

While it may seem cliché, the Bruins recognize that although you can’t make the playoffs in October, you can certainly squash your chances of qualifying down the line with a sub-par start to the regular season.

“We’re trying to look at it a game at a time,” winger Brad Marchand said. “But every point matters, especially when it comes down to the end of the year when everyone is battling for the last few points and last few positions.

"We have to make sure we’re focused one very point here and especially with divisional game. They’re very important right now.”