The rivalry between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens clearly wasn’t as intense last year as the Canadiens were the worst team in the Eastern Conference, posting a 31-35-16 record for just 78 points.
But Montreal is playing much better hockey this year. The Canadiens head into today’s 7:30 p.m. game vs. the Bruins at the Bell Centre with a 6-2-0 record. They are just one point behind the Bruins (6-1-1) in the Northeast Division standings.
Montreal definitely is happy to have Andrei Markov back and healthy. The 34-year-old defenseman has four goals and four assists. He is tied for the team lead with eight points.
Markov played just 20 games combined over the past two seasons because of having multiple reconstructive surgeries on his right knee’s ACL.
BIG GAME ALERT
Archrivals Pinkerton and Londonderry face off in a 3:50 p.m. boys hockey today at Londonderry.
The two schools met in the Salem Holiday Tournament earlier this season. In that one, Eric Coburn and Jason Parker each netted two goals as Londonderry scored three times in the third period to turn a one-goal deficit into a 7-5 win.
Londonerry enters 7-4-1 in Division 1. Pinkerton comes in at 7-5-0.
CONNORS ACCEPTED AT BATES
Windham High’s Bernadette Connors was accepted early decision at Bates College and plans to play basketball there next year.
Bates is a NESCAC school and its women’s basketball team is 11-10 overall and 4-5 in league this year so far.
Connors was an Eagle-Tribune All-Star as a junior, averaging 10.7 points per game and netting 32 3-pointers. She shot 40 percent from 3-point range last year and averaged 16.0 ppg in three playoff games.
Read more about Connors in next week’s girls basketball notebook, which will appear in Monday’s Eagle-Tribune.
As noted in yesterday’s newspaper, new Red Sox director of media relations Kevin Gregg is the son of former National League umpire Eric Gregg, who died of a massive stroke in 2006.
Eric Gregg co-authored his own autobiography titled “Working the Plate: The Eric Gregg Story.” It can be purchased on Amazon.com.
RED SOX ADD BULLPEN CATCHER
The Red Sox have named Dana Levangie the team’s new bullpen coach.
Levangie, 43, is a former catcher and spent the past seven seasons as a major league advance scout for the Red Sox. He will continue to assist with advance scouting.
Levangie has spent 22 years in professional baseball, including six years as a player. All 22 years have been with the Red Sox organization. He was a pro scout for the team in 2005. The 2013 season will mark Levangie’s return to the bullpen, as he held the position of bullpen catcher for eight years from 1997 through 2004.
“We are extremely pleased to add Dana to the major league staff,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said in a statement. “He has been a valuable asset to the Red Sox in a variety of roles and his vast knowledge of the Major Leagues, particularly the American League, will enable him to make an impact on our staff and with our bullpen.”
COLLINS NAMED FINALIST
Merrimack junior hockey star Mike Collins is one of 16 semifinalists for the 2013 Walter Brown Award, which is given to the best American-born college hockey player in New England.
The Hockey East has the most semifinalists (8). The ECAC (7) and Atlantic Hockey (1) also have finalists for the award. Last year’s winner, Bentley’s Brett Gensler, is a finalist again this year.
Collins, who was the Hockey East Player of the Month for Janaury, leads Merrimack and is second in the Hockey East in total points with 32 (14 goals and 18 assists). Collins also leads all Hockey East players in conference scoring with 27 points in 18 conference games so far.