Game 41 : Habs vs Pens
The Pittsburgh Penguins (25-12-3) roll into Montreal (21-16-3) tonight, for the first time this season. After a terrible December, this is when the Habs need to push back. A win tonight would really start some much needed momentum for the Canadiens. Also, would really help all the fans after what happened last night at the World Juniors.
Habs need to stay disciplined tonight, something they have had some trouble with during the past few games. Frustration has set in, and the team needs to pull themselves together and really just get back to the basics. Passing needs to improve and confidence needs to be rebuilt. Lets take a look at who's who.
After last night's lashing of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Pens must be feeling great. Personally, I think this might be a good thing for Montreal. Pittsburgh will be tired, and likely, over confident. With a fragile team like Montreal, it really comes down to the first ten minutes. If the Habs can withstand the Pens offense during the first period, I think the Habs can start to play their game in the second. Like I mentioned, Pittsburgh played last night. Which usually means some slow legs and fatigue. Depending on which team shows up tonight, a smart well thought out strategy can result in a much needed win for the Habs.
Sidney Crosby, if it's even possible to say, has slowed down in the past three games. Recording only 1 assist. With 66 points on the season, I can't imagine this lasting too long. With the return of Malkin, the Habs now have more than just one superstar to look after tonight. Throw in some excellent goaltending in Marc Andre Fluery, and you've got some stiff competition. As for the Habs, they've scored only 5 goals in their last two games despite out shooting their opponents both times.
Carey Price is also looking to bounce back from a disappointing Decemeber. His numbers are still pretty impressive (2.37 GAA, .920 Sv%) but he's been having trouble in key times throughout games. Expect him to get the start tonight.
Marc Andre Fluery knows what it's like to struggle. He started the 2010-2011 season in a way that made everyone question his future as the Pens #1. Losing a handful of games early in the season saw Fluery sitting on the bench while veteran goaltender Brent Johnson started to take his roll away from him. It took just 1 win for Fluery to kick start his season, and he carried the team over a 12 game winning streak. It's been a hell of a story in Pittsburgh this season and I would really like to see come back to Montreal, and re live a bit of what happened last year in the playoffs, while playing the Habs.
Pittsburgh will play without their big man Eric Godard, while the Habs are of course with Andrei Markov, and Josh Gorges, who is out with a leg injury.
The power play needs to work for the Canadiens tonight, or we might be in store for another frustrating and long game.
Game time is 7:30pm. Being aired on RDS and TSN-HABSHD.