Carbonneau

Carbonneau

The Montreal media will have a field day with this one.

By virtue of their 5-4 win over Washington last night in Montreal, the Canadiens clinched the second-best points percentage in the Eastern Conference — earning the All-Star assistant coach’s position for their head coach Guy Carbonneau. Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette has the story.

That means that the Habs bench boss will aid Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien, who will be the East’s head coach by virtue of Boston’s conference-best points percentage, at the 2009 NHL All-Star Game in Montreal Jan. 25. It also means that two bitter rivals will have to share the bench. When Julien was fired by Montreal in February 2006, it was done with the intent of making way for Carbonneau to take the reins (although general manager Bob Gainey initially took over on an interim basis).

And last season, the Bruins and Habs met 15 times, including seven in the playoffs — with plenty of verbal jabs and blows flying back in forth. The rivalry really began to cook in the regular season when Julien swapped angry words with both Carbonneau and Montreal assistant Kirk Muller late in one game at the Bell Center. Let the drama begin!

Also in today’s Gazette, Red Fisher commends the Canadiens’ depth.