Game Day: Pittsburgh Penguins Vs. Montreal Canadiens
The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Montreal Canadiens will both play their 24th games tonight. The season is over quarter of the way over. The newness of the season, the apprehension of how the new players will fit in and the tension of how each team will start is over. Now it’s time to honestly look at the team and see exactly where each stands.
I am sure you have heard this before but to start with we must remember that the Penguins have been without the league’s best player, Sidney Crosby, for most of the season. The Habs have been without Andrei Markov and a slew of second tier players.
After 23 games, the Pens sit atop the Eastern conference while the Habs sit in tenth. Both teams have roughly the same away record but the Pens dominate at home. The Habs on the other hand are just mediocre at the Bell Centre. Both teams allow the same amount of goals but the Pens have scored fifteen more times than the Habs.
Doing a quick eyeball of the Habs, it should be simple. The Habs need to score more goals and win more games at home. There was once a time that teams came to Montreal and knew what they were in for: a loss and then a night out in the St. Catherine and Crescent street district. I know that the partying hasn’t changed that much in Montreal, so it must be the team. Opposing teams now come in excited to play in front of family and friends and knowing that their night won’t end with just a win on the ice.
Who To Look Our For?
Crosby is obviously back and loves to play in Montreal. Evgeni Malkin has been picking up points in most of his games and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is stating his claim as the best at his position in the league. After a fast start Matt Cooke has tailed off. His change in attitude has given him increased ice time as we all wait for him to revert to his old ways and once again become one of the most hated players in the league.
The D core has been playing well for the Habs. Josh Gorges has become the new offensive catalyst, with P.K. Subban still learning to play with consistency. Alexei Emelin and Raphael Diaz have now solidified their places in the league. Hal Gill is back but his partner Yannick Weber has struggled. Erik Cole struggled in his last game and needs to get back to his play during the past three weeks.
The Penguins are injury free. The Habs are still without Markov, Jaroslav Spacek, Chris Campoli and Andrei Kostitsyn. Scott Gomez is still out but sadly or happily isn’t missed by too many.
The Habs have to make the Bell Centre a fortress. The fans are plentiful, passionate and are never shy to voice their opinions. Some of that passion has to rub off on the players. One quarter of the season is over and if the next six weeks go much the same way the first six weeks went, the Habs will have little chance at making the playoffs.
The game will be on CBC, RDS and broadcast on TSN990 in Montreal at 7 pm EST.
Shahab Khan the Schoolboy