Game 5 preview: Habs look to rebound against Souray-less Oilers

When the Canadiens lost 7-1 to the Canucks on Wednesday night, I sat in front of my computer for two days searching for the words to describe what myself and other Habs fans were feeling. Frankly, they just didn't make it out. And it is hard to find words that describe the dismay a fan base feels when their team loses by a six goal margin, no matter the circumstance.

And yes, it's just one game, we all know that there are still over 75 games left on the schedule and all teams lose like this at one point or another, but regardless of that, it isn't a feeling you really look forward to having, even if you know it's going to happen to even the best of teams.

But there is at least a little bit of positive that came out of this ridiculous loss. Errors and weaknesses that weren't visible in the midst of the haze that was the first three games were exposed, and, hopefully addressed these past few days by both the players and the coaching staff. The players now have a reason to be angry and have a reason to vent that frustration, both in the bag skate that they had a two days ago, as well as in upcoming games.

If Wednesday's experience was as cathartic as one would hope it would be, then there should be 18 skaters and a goalie on the ice tonight that are going to be ready to rock the Edmonton Oilers.

And the most important of those players is Carey Price, who was so peeved after his performance on Wednesday night that he punched a hole in the wall at GM place after the ugly loss. While he wasn't injured, Rick Moffat of CJAD Radio in Montreal reported yesterday that his hand was still pretty red from the punch at Friday's practice in Edmonton. Price joked about his he has to work on his left hook, but the usually calm and joking goaltender then got serious, saying that even the calmest of people need to grab a towel to scream into every once in a while.

Now that he's experienced his latest embarrassing loss, and now that's he's vented his frustrations, taking it out both on the GM Place wall and on the ice during practice, he needs to make it up to his team and to the fans on the ice against the Edmonton Oilers, set to take place tonight at 10 on RDS and CBC.

And if I was Jacques Martin, I'd come back with the exact same line-up tonight, including Price and all 18 skaters that laced them up on Wednesday. The exact same line-up that crapped the bed on Wednesday against the Canucks. They've lost together, now it's time for them to bounce back and win together. Halak will get more chances, and the forwards that are sitting out will also get another crack at making the line-up, but this group NEEDS to win, and NEEDS to perform well tonight against the Oilers, and it looks like they will.

At least the Canadiens and their dismal 29th ranked penalty 56% penalty kill will have a slightly easier time against the Oilers tonight. Former Montreal Canadien and super-shooter Sheldon Souray is out with a concussion after a questionable hit by Jarome Iginla(*more on this below) and while his presence will mostly be missed on the powerplay, he was a big part of their overall blueline presence.

Add him to the injured Steve Staios, Fernando Pisani and Marc Pouliot, and the Oilers actually look worse than the Markov-less and O'Byrne-less Habs going into tonight's game.

The Canadiens need to be almost perfect on special teams tonight, but either way, it should be a good, all-Canadian match-up tonight, better than the fiasco of a match on Wednesday!

Injury depleted, struggling Oilers versus injury depleted, struggling Canadiens, tonight!

Enjoy the game!

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MORE ON THE IGGY-SHELLY HIT

I alluded to the fact that the hit Iginla laid on Souray was "questionable". Some have qualified it as dirty, others, less so. And frankly the hit was mostly questioned by Oilers coach Pat Quinn. It just seems like he's trying to take attention away from the fact that his team hasn't been all that great to start the season. An experienced guy like Quinn must have known he would have gotten fined and that the hit really wasn't that bad, and as an experienced coach, it seems like Quinn knew what he was doing when he said what he said about the hit. I don't know if he's ever coached Iginla in international play, but he must know Iggy and he must know what kind of player and person he is, and all this Oilers hate for Iginla seems like nothing more than canon fodder for a Calgary-Edmonton feud that's been lacking since the Oilers stopped making the playoffs.

Iggy isn't that kind of player and wouldn't do something like that on purpose. It just looks like he was trying to be intense and up the ante a bit in terms of hitting, and the end result was less desirable than what he was hoping. Iginla is Captian Canada, Mr. Smiley, and he probably knows Souray personally. It even looks like he cared after the fact.

Anyway, enough ranting... you be the judge.

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UPDATE FROM HAMILTON

No, this isn't about Jim Balsillie...

In the good news of the day, The Hamilton Bulldogs held their home opener last night at Copps Coliseum against the Rockford IceHogs, blanking them 3-0.

Amongst the players making an impact on the scorecard:

- Newly acquired Marc-Andre Bergeron had 2 assists in his first game in a Bulldogs jersey. His performance further solidifies speculation that he'll be in the line-up next Thursday for the Canadiens home opener against the Avalanche.

- Curtis Sanford made 38 saves for a shutout.

- Tom Pyatt, a late cut from training camp due to a concussion suffered at the hands of Ales Kotalik, had a goal.

Certainly 3 Dogs to look out for in the coming weeks, amongst others.

It would be really surprising if Bergeron isn't in the line-up for the home opener, and Pyatt is making some waves too, as he did during training camp. I firmly believe he'd be here already if it wasn't for the injury he suffered during the pre-season game versus the Sabres. If some of the young guys who don't have to go through waivers have another bad game or two, he could very well find himself in a Canadiens uniform very soon.

As for Sanford, he obviously faced a tough situation backing up two capable young goaltenders, but if one of the two gets injured (knock on wood) or Bob Gainey decides to finally trade Jaroslav Halak, Canadiens fans can at least feel safe knowing that there is a capable back-up goaltender waiting in the wings in Hamilton.

That's all for today, don't forget to follow us on twitter!

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Prax

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