Gameday: Habs Look to Keep Rolling in Ottawa
Hi. Nice to you see you again. It's been a while, hasn't it?
Only a month into the 2011-12, it seems like we've had to go through yet another off-season, with six days off between the Canadiens' last couple of games (a sweep of a home-and-home series against the struggling Boston Bruins) and tonight's match-up against the red hot (wut) Ottawa Senators. Even the weather cooperated here in Montreal, with a few nice days throughout the week, despite the fact that it's November.
Yup, it definitely felt like we just had another mini off-season, and quite frankly, it couldn't have come at a worst time for the Montreal Canadiens. Look no further than their record in their last week of play, a crowded 4-game schedule that saw the Canadiens go 3-1-0, with all three wins coming from major conference rivals.
In those four games against the Panthers, Flyers and Bruins (x2), the Canadiens only allowed six goals, scoring double that amount on their way to three victories. They may even have looked better than in any of their wins in their 2-1 loss to the Panthers last Monday. Needless to say, a long stretch from the 1-4-2 record we saw them amass in the three weeks prior.
The obvious answer to the question of what caused this quick turnaround would be the firing of assistant coach Perry Pearn. Whether it was his actual effect on the game, or the kick in the butt it likely gave his best friend and head coach Jacques Martin is up for debate, but you can't deny that the results are there. Pearn's firing, which came mere hours before their 5-1 win over the Flyers, had a definite effect, but you have to wonder whether that's now worn off, with six days to forgot about the former assistant coach since Saturday's 4-2 win over the Bruins.
What's more, it has to be asked whether the Canadiens' victories were a tad deceptive. The Bruins are dead last in the East and are struggling to overcome their Stanley Cup Hangover. The Flyers currently sit in 4th place in the East, but were clearly frazzled on Wednesday, having lost Chris Pronger to a frightening eye injury mere hours before the game, and the result was definite disorganization for a Philly team that was missing one of their best players.
Now, the Canadiens head to Ottawa for a game against a Senators team that had won six games in a row before a 5-3 loss to the Bruins earlier in the week. Now that they've gotten a taste for success which eluded them last season, they'll be looking to bounce back against the Habs, and in their own building, no less, where they have one of the best records in the league.
Will the Canadiens be able to keep rolling, or will the Sens expose their recent run for a facade?
- The Sens have scored 42 goals (3rd), but have given up 50 (dead last). The Habs are 17th (29) in goals for, and 13th (30) in goals against. Needless to say, tonight's match-up has barnburner potential.
- It's Carey Price (4-4-2, .900SVP, 2.59GAA) vs. Craig Anderson (6-3-0,.880SVP, 3.80GAA) in goal. The Sens have been winning in spite of Anderson, and the Habs need to take advantage of. If anyone can stop the Sens' potent offense, it's Price, who was 3-0-0 last week with a 1.33GAA and a .950SVP, good enough for first star of the week honors from NHL.com and Molson Cup honors for October from the Habs.
Canadiens -- Carey Price (obviously), Tomas Plekanec (3pts in last 2GP), DavisDesharnais (4pts in last 3GP), Erik Cole (3pts in last 4, leads team in hits).
Senators -- Filip Kuba (4pts in last 3GP), Sergei Gonchar (7pts in last 6GP), ErikKarlsson (1G, 12A in 13 games), Colin Greening (6pts in last 7GP).
Canadiens -- Scott Gomez (upper body), Andrei Markov (knee), Chris Campoli (leg), Ryan White (hernia surgery).
Senators -- Daniel Alfredsson (concussion), Alex Auld (undisclosed), Matt Carkner (knee), Peter Regin (shoulder).
Prediction: 4-3 Sens in a shootout.
Let us know what you think in the comments below, and tune into the game tonight at 7:30 on RDS, and TSN-Regional, or TSN 990 on the radio.