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Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Vanek gets first taste of B's-Habs rivalry

By Joe McDonald

MONTREAL -- When the Montreal Canadiens acquired forward Thomas Vanek at the trade deadline, the Boston Bruins knew his presence would have a major impact on their rivalry.

Vanek has enjoyed tremendous success against the Bruins, posting 61 points in 53 career games. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli called Vanek’s move to Montreal a challenge for Boston, but one that the team was looking forward to.

Montreal will host the Bruins on Wednesday night at Bell Centre.

Vanek participated in his first full practice with the Canadiens on Tuesday. Afterward, he downplayed his success against Boston.

“I don't know. The last four or five years, to me, Boston has been one of the better teams in the league,” he said. “You want to play your best against the best teams, but again, I think sometimes just the numbers are the numbers. I can't really tell you why that is, but I can tell you that it's a big game, it's a great team and you want to play in big games.

Vanek, who spent the majority of his career with the Buffalo Sabres, was asked about experiencing this rivalry between the Bruins and Canadiens.

“The rivalries, I think, are for the fans and they're good to have in this league, but for us in here -- and I'm sure it's the same as everywhere -- it's just about winning two points,” Vanek said. “I'm sure the atmosphere is going to be great and I can't wait to experience it tomorrow.”

Montreal goaltender Carey Price, who has been sidelined with a lower-body injury since the Olympics, practiced with the team Tuesday. While Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said his No. 1 goalie is improving, Price will not play against the Bruins.

Currently, the Bruins are atop the Atlantic Division with 89 points and Montreal is third with 77 points. The Canadiens have had success against Boston this season, winning both games, but Therrien said his team is not taking Wednesday’s opponent for granted.

“First of all, the Bruins, this is a good hockey team,” he said. “They are battling with Pittsburgh right now for first place in the conference and every game is a new challenge. Tomorrow is no different and it’s a huge challenge for us.”