Bruins ready for 'big matchup' vs. Habs ahead of bye week

Bruins ready for 'big matchup' vs. Habs ahead of bye week

BOSTON – The Bruins know what waits for them on the other side of Sunday night’s rivalry showdown with the Montreal Canadiens.

The Black and Gold will start their five day “bye week” on Monday where there will be no games, no practices and truthfully not much thinking about hockey for the players as they scatter to the four corners of the world. But it undoubtedly will be a much sweeter built-in vacation for the Bruins if they can muster up a little extra to take down the first place Habs, and head into that break 3-for-3 in the win column since interim head coach Bruce Cassidy took the reins earlier this week.

“They’ve played well all year and they always play well against us, so we definitely have a big matchup tonight. [A win] would definitely be nice going into that break,” said Brad Marchand. “We understand that we’ve put ourselves here and we’ve got to work our way out of it. The guys did a really good job responding in the last two games, but tonight is another big test.

“We have to continue to move forward, push on and worry about each and every game as it comes. We can’t get ahead in the schedule because everything is so tight right now [in the standings]. So every single game is huge.”

The Bruins might be catching Montreal at the right time with the Habs just 3-5-2 in their last 10 games, and Carey Price perhaps not as sharp as he’d been earlier in the season. On the other hand the Bruins have scored a combined 10 goals in their two wins under Cassidy, and their power play has scored in each of their last seven games at a blistering 43.5 percent success rate (10-for-23) during that span.

On the other hand, the Bruins are also 1-6-2 in the second night of back-to-back scenarios this season and that’s exactly where they find themselves on Sunday night.

So it will be up to the Bruins to dig deep and empty the tank like they haven’t so many times this season on home ice, and continue to show that maybe things are going to be a little different down the stretch this season. 

Donato misses Bruins practice for Harvard class commitment

Donato misses Bruins practice for Harvard class commitment

It might have caused a ripple when Ryan Donato wasn’t on the ice on Tuesday afternoon in St. Louis for Bruins practice on the day after his brilliant, three-point NHL debut for the Black and Gold. But the 21-year-old Donato was still back in the Boston area fulfilling some class requirements at Harvard University to help him close out the current semester properly, and not lose the credits that will keep him in line with fulfilling his junior year at Harvard University.

Believe it or not, the schoolwork is important to the newest member of the Boston Bruins and he intends to study and hit the books on his road trips, and also intends to take classes in the summertime to still graduate on time next season.

“I’m planning on finishing the semester academically. I want to finish the semester academically,” said Donato, after Monday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena prior to last night’s debut vs. Columbus. “Obviously it’s going to be something that’s difficult, but for me it was a dream to graduate from Harvard. I’m putting that off a little bit, but I need to be able to finish this semester in order to have that opportunity, and not put it off for another couple of years. I want to finish out the semester.”

Donato is also still living in the Harvard dorms while “moonlighting” as an NHL hockey player for the rest of the season, but that isn’t all so uncommon among some of the college players that leave school early. Charlie McAvoy was similarly living in the Boston University dorms last spring through Boston’s playoff run, and didn’t clear out of his college living situation until after the Black and Gold had been eliminated by the Ottawa Senators last April.

Missing practices on an NHL schedule is certainly a new one with, Donato, however, and takes the student-athlete concept to a whole new level for somebody that's already turned pro. One has to expect this was one of the things being discussed in full when the Donato family, Ryan's agent and the Bruins discussed his contract terms over the weekend before coming to an agreement.

Along with Donato, who is scheduled to fly into St. Louis and play against the Blues on Wednesday night, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, David Backes, Jake DeBrusk, Rick Nash and Torey Krug were all missing from the ice at Tuesday’s team practice ahead of a four game road trip against Western Conference opponents.


Morning Skate: Claude's Habs 'not a very good team'

File photo

Morning Skate: Claude's Habs 'not a very good team'

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while not really digging these forecasts of more snow.

*You know, if he weren’t making millions and millions of dollars I might actually feel bad for ol' Claude Julien up in Montreal busting out the “We’re not a very good team” soliloquy with the Habs. That team flat out stinks this season and these past few weeks it can’t be fun at all being the head coach of that dumpster fire.

*Darren Dreger says there is no rush for the Toronto Maple Leafs to bring back Auston Matthews before he’s ready to go, and that’s absolutely the case so close to the playoffs.

*Here are five Hart Trophy-caliber players that won’t get a sniff of the voting, but deserve some attention nonetheless. There are no Bruins players on the list if you’re wondering, but some pretty good ones in Johnny Gaudreau and Aleksander Barkov.

*The NHL general managers are weighing potential changes to the goalie-interference interpretation ahead of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

*While it still looks a Swedish defenseman is going to be the No. 1 overall pick this June, there are some other players rocketing up the list.

*For something completely different: The definitive ranking of Girl Scout cookies from best-to-worst that we’ve all been waiting for.

*Song of the Week: Haven’t done one of these in a long, long time, but I like this Calvin Harris/Katy Perry/Pharrell Williams tune that I hadn’t heard until the past couple of days.