Bruins and Canadiens battle for top spot in Northeast

MONTREAL CANADA - DECEMBER 16: Steve Kampfer #47 of the Boston Bruins body checks Mathieu Darche #52 of the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL game at the Bell Centre on December 16 2010 in Montreal Quebec Canada. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

When the Bruins take the ice at the Bell Centre in Montreal tonight, they will have one goal in mind: keep possession of first place in the Northeast Division. The Bruins enter tonight's contest just one point up on the Montreal Canadiens in the Northeast Division standings with 2 games in hand.

The Habs beat the Sidney Crosby-less Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in a shootout on Thursday night, but have struggled lately going a mediocre 4-5-1 over their last 10 games. According to Habs Inside Out, Montreal will start Carey Price in goal tonight.

Claude Julien shuffled lines in practice on Friday, promoting Michael Ryder to the first line with Milan Lucic and Marc Savard, while Nathan Horton was relegated to third line duty. Horton left the ice early during Friday's practice with what Julien describe as "discomfort". After the morning skate today at Bell Centre, Julien said that it is "very unlikely" Horton will play tonight. One guy that will be playing is Tim Thomas. Thomas was the first goalie off the ice at the morning skate and get the nod in goal.

Injury Report:


Boston Bruins Injuries

DOUBTFUL

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Nathan Horton undisclosed 01/08/2011

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Mark Stuart fingers 12/08/2010


Montreal Canadiens Injuries

Probable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Roman Hamrlik undisclosed 01/08/2011

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Josh Gorges knee 12/27/2010
Andrei Markov knee 11/14/2010

Notes:

- Word out of Montreal is that Zdeno Chara is sick, but is expected to play tonight.

- The Canadiens made a pair of trades recently. On December 28th, the Habs sent a 2nd round pick in 2011 and a 5th round pick in 2012 to the New York Islanders in exchange for defenseman James Wisniewski. Then on New Year's Eve, Montreal traded forward Maxim Lapierre to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenseman Brett Festerling and a 5th round pick in 2012, completely going against their long-standing team policy of hoarding mediocre French-speaking players.

- Former Bruins rent-a-player Mirolslav Satan has signed with Dynamo Moscow of the KHL.

- Maybe a move up to the first line will inspire Michael Ryder to produce against his former team. Ryder has 5 points (all assists) in 14 games against the Habs.

- With the undisclosed injury to Nathan Horton, Daniel Paille is expected to skate on the fourth line, while Brad Marchand will be placed on another line.

- Tonight's game will be televised on NESN and NHL Network in the Lower 48, while RDS and CBC will air the game for those of you watching in Canada. Dave Goucher and Bob Beers will have the radio call on 98.5 FM The Sports Hub.

- The game starts at 7:00 PM ET and the Public Skate open thread will get going at 6:30 PM ET.

- For more on tonight's game, check out Habs Eyes On The Prize

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