Laraquing up the Goals: Habs vs. Sens
The Montreal Canadiens will look to increase their win streak to 2 games tonight as they welcome the ailing Ottawa Senators to the Bell Centre.
On Thursday night, the Habs lit the lamp and broke out offensively, scoring 5 goals against another ailing team in the Dallas Stars. With two goals from Brian Gionta, beauties from Benoit Pouliot and Mike Cammalleri, as well as a rare goal from Georges Laraque (his first as a Hab, hence the title of the blog... can't pass up a good pun like that), the Canadiens walked out of that game with 5 goals and 2 points in the bank.
Laraque certainly had something to prove on Thursday. There has been much criticism about his game (deserved criticism, to be fair), and talk about whether or not his career might be over due to nagging back injuries. Add to that all that's happened to his native country of Haiti this week and that might make Laraque's goal the most important of his career.
The criticism will always be there - it's Montreal - but Laraque can breathe somewhat of a sigh of going into this weekend's games.
Speaking of criticism...
Carey Price made 33 saves in the win against the Stars, and while Price haters will argue that the 3 goals he gave up were weak, Jacques Martin obviously thought his performance was good enough to merit another start, as Price will be getting his second start in a row tonight against the Sens. While one has to wonder about the reasoning behind Martin's decision, with Halak playing so well, I'll repeat it until some of the thicker fans get it through their heads - Price hasn't been much worse. It's been statistically proven.
So Martin's decision is easily justifiable. With 33 saves and a win on Thursday, he certainly earned it. Moreover, unless Price gets a shutout, Halak will most likely start the next game, as the Habs visit the Rangers tomorrow after playing the Sens tonight.
With seemingly odd decisions coming from the coaching staff when it comes to the goaltending, could one of the two be headed out of town sooner rather than later? Neither Halak nor Price has been safe from trade rumors this season, and you have to believe that even Bob Gainey wants to resolved this controversy if he can get what he needs from whatever team he'd be trading with.
Nevertheless, Price will be between the pipes tonight, but the key to a victory by the Canadiens will once again be the special teams. On Thursday the Canadiens converted twice on the man-advantage against one of the worst PKs in the league, and will look to add to that tonight. The Sens PK isn't as bad as the Stars PK, but the Sens will be missing their entire first line, their starting goaltender and one of their top defensemen tonight, injuries that will certainly put a damper on the Sens' chances of winning.
While the sens shut out the Rangers on Thursday night, they had lost their previous five games by 3 goals or more. This game will the for the Habs to lose.
*Note: Injured players are omitted from stat leaders.
|Goals:||Cammalleri (21)||Fisher (15)|
|Assists:||Plekanec (36)||Kovalev (19)|
|Points:||Plekanec (46)||Fisher (33)|
|Plus/Minus:||Cammalleri (+12)||Foligno (+8)|
|Time on Ice:||Hamrlik (23:59 per game)||Phillips (22:22 per game)|
|PIMs:||Lapierre (46)||Neil (130)|
|SVP:||Halak (.927)||Brodeur (.982)|
|GAA:||Halak (2.46)||Brodeur (0.50)|
|Record:||Halak (12-6-1 20GP)||Turco (2-0-0 2GP)|
|Injuries:||Andrei Kostitsyn (lower body, 6 weeks)|
Sergei Kostitsyn (lower body, DTD)
|Jason Spezza (torn MCL, 6-8 weeks)|
Daniel Alfredsson (Separated shoulder, 4-6 weeks)
Milan Michalek (head, IR)
Jesse Winchester (knee, 1 month)
Pascal Leclaire (concussion, indefinitely)
Filip Kuba (upper body, questionable)
Brian Elliott (illness, questionable)
|Last 10:||6-3-1, won 1||4-6-0, won 1|
|Standings:||23-21-4, T7th, 50Pts, 48GP||23-21-4, T8th, 50PTS, 48GP|
|GF/GA per game:||2.50GF, 27th/ 2.65GA, 11th||2.60GF, 19th/ 3.00GA, 22nd|
|PP/PK %:||25.7%, 1st / 84.1%, 7th||13.9%, 30th / 82.3%, 13th|
WHAT THE STATS SAY:
The Canadiens and Sens have identical records, tied for 7th place in the east. The Canadiens, however, have had an easier time winning lately. While they cling on to one of the last playoff spots, the Sens continue to slip.
While the Habs won't have as easy a time scoring powerplay goals against the Sens as they did the Stars, they don't have to worry about the opposing team's powerplay, as the Sens are the worst team in the league in that department, and with their entire top line missing, it shouldn't be too much of a problem, and barring something crazy happening, the Sens shouldn't score too many goals period. Both PKs are pretty evenly matched.
I would except Kovalev to be all over the place for the sense but whether he can carry the game like he has against the Habs earlier in the season is questionable, especially with Martin having the last chance and not having anyone other than Kovalev and Fisher to worry about. The Habs will have two lines looking to out do each other on the score sheet and it should translate into a Canadiens victory.
FINAL PREDICTION: Habs 4 - Sens 1
The Canadiens will continue to score goals, and i would hope that Tomas Plekanec will finally get back on the score sheet. Mike Brodeur, needs to get a couple of goals scored on him, as he's only had 1 GA this entire season.
Habs fans go home happy.
I'll be back tomorrow for the Rangers - Habs preview.
Enjoy the game!