The most one-sided season series in the NHL resumes Thursday night when the Boston Bruins host the first game of a home and home with the hated Montreal Canadiens.
The Bruins are 0-6-0 against the Canadiens this season and were outscored 32-12 in those games.
"We haven't got one point off of them all year," Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli told The Canadian Press on Wednesday. "So it's been a frustrating year against them. They're a good team. But it's an opportune time now for us to get after it here."
For Boston, hanging on to its playoff hopes while going only 3-4-3 in its last 10, revenge against the Habs is secondary to grabbing some valuable points in the standings.
"It's a crucial point of the season," impressive Bruins rookie Milan Lucic said Wednesday after practice. "We know what's on the line. We want to make a good playoff push here. We've got nine games left and we're fighting for our lives to get into the playoffs.
"I think for us, we can't worry about what's happened against these guys in the last six meetings this season, we just have to focus on ourselves and make sure we're playing hard."
The Bruins are seventh in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the last playoff spot held by Philadelphia, and very much feeling the heat from the late-season pushes from behind by Washington, Buffalo and Florida.
"These games are important against Montreal," said Lucic. "If we win them both we move up closer to them, if we lose both we can be out of the hunt real quick here."
A clean sweep in regulation of the home and home would put Boston just three points behind the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference. But for that to happen, the Bruins would need to reverse the trend in a season series dominated by the Habs. Boston has played a physical style against Montreal but the skilled Habs have not backed down.
"They've obviously had a lot of success against us," said Lucic. "You can't take that away from them. But looking at those games, we weren't really smart with our physical play. We took too many penalties. So going into the final two meetings against them, I think we still have to be physical but we have to do it in a smart way."
Montreal's' No. 1-rated power play has killed Boston all season long.
"Exactly, they're going to make you pay that way," said Lucic.
So what's the secret to beating Montreal? Chiarelli says while physical play might be one option, that isn't the only way.
"You've seen a team like the Senators have success against them (5-1-0 vs. Habs) and they don't do that," said the Bruins GM. "The Canadiens are just a real quick team, a good transition team and they've got a lot of shooters. They're a skilled team. We have to play hard, play our game, get some good goaltending, grind our way through it and capitalize on our chances - we certainly haven't been doing that and that's got to come around at some point."
The Bruins have scored only 13 goals in their 10 games this month, relying way too much on goalies Tim Thomas and Alex Auld to save the day. A big boost would be the return of star blue-liner and captain Zdeno Chara, who has missed the last five games with a suspected shoulder injury.
"He skated in the full practice today," said Chiarelli. "He's day to day. We'll see how it is tomorrow and we'll make a determination."