Game 17 : Hurricanes v. Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens could make many a fan eat crow tonight as the Carolina Hurricanes blow into town.
After a week that many thought would render the Habs close to pointless, Jacques Martin's crew has a solid opportunity to turn this into a 6 point week. And that will come as a shock to anyone who follows this club.
Coming off back to back wins, over two solid and hot teams in the league, Montreal will attempt to maintain their momentum on home ice at the Bell Center. Without doubt, their last outing against the Boston Bruins provided many positives that they will want to carry forward. Most notably, a spur from special teams, as they seemed to break the slump and provide 2 Power Play goals. And even more-so, the break out night that saw both Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez tally goals.
But the team also seemed to be firing on all cylinders, getting great performances throughout the entire line-up. Markov potted his first of the season, as did PK Subban. Not to mention the supporting roles that were held offensively by Plekanec, Kostitsyn, Cammalleri, and Hamrlik.
But as I mentioned at the beginning of the week, the teams that the Canadiens seem to struggle against the most in the league, are the ones that should really plead a no contest against them. We've all seen the team step up their game when facing the top talent, but when it comes to teams like the Hurricanes, they often show up complacent.
Something they definitely can not afford to do tonight as they close out their week. Carolina is coming off of their most embarrassing loss of the season : an 8-1 shellacking by the Philadelphia Flyers,
"We were embarrassed on our home ice," Staal said, as he spoke of the loss to the Flyers. And you can be sure that with 48 hours to think it over, the Canes will be looking for retribution. Despite his being held pointless against Philly, Staal had picked up 6 points in the previous two games, and will most definitely be a threat coming into tonights match-up. Cam Ward will also be looking for a huge rebound match after he was pulled only 5:58 into the second frame on Thursday night. The Bell Center is just the venue he can do it in as well. His career GAA is 1.55 and his record is 6-0-1 when playing here in Montreal.
The big story once again, will be net-minder Carey Price. Earning a shutout on Tuesday, and holding the Bruins to a single goal in his last outing, it's clear that Price is coming into his own. Even with his Movember Mustache! With a fired up Canes team looking for payback, there's no doubt he'll be kept busy.
There's plenty of talent on the Carolina side that will be swinging for the fences tonight. Staal, Skinner, Ruutu, Cole, and Jokinen have amassed 57 points in their first 16 games (averaging 3.00 goals/game). They are also averaging just over 32 SOG/game, so Montreal's defensive unit will have plenty of work cut out for them.
But it is Saturday Night, and the boys are on home ice. There is no doubt that the 21,273 fans in the building will be showing their appreciation for the previous two wins. And it will be a loud start.
If Martin's squad can harness that energy from the get-go, we can all have hope for a 6 point week.