Tuesday, January 29, 2008

After a Brief Layoff...

I, Like the Montreal Canadiens, am back to work. Looking forward to getting back to business at the Bell Centre where the Habs look to improve on their league-worst home record. With 33 games to go in the regular season, the Canadiens have 60 points.

Of the 33 games remaining, 19 will be played at the Bell Centre. It's time to correct the problems at home once and for all. The Canadiens need roughly 17 wins to assure themselves of a spot in the postseason. If they play the way they've played the last few seasons at home, there shouldn't be a problem.

The Canadiens have 7 players with 30 or more points. The only other teams that can make the same boast are Detroit, Carolina and Philadelphia. It's a stat that speaks to the overall depth of the team as well as the effectiveness of Carbo's rolling four lines.

Mathieu Dandenault seems to have become the odd man out with his -10 rating, the worst on the team. It must be frustrating for a veteran like him to swallow his pride and watch games from the pressbox but he needs to suck it up and put the team first. Chances are he'll be back in the lineup before long and how can he argue with the success the team is having right now?

You don't want to change a winning formula. If the Canadiens fail to win tonight and Cristobal Huet has difficulty, then I would like to see Jaroslav Halak on Saturday afternoon against the Islanders. Huet makes his ninth consecutive start tonight and is expected to play on Thursday and again on Saturday. That would be 11 straight starts, which would mark a career high for the French netminder.

Here's a little game preview: It's the third meeting of the year for the Habs and Caps. The teams split the first two games so far with the home team losing each time, the Habs loss came in OT after Carey Price gave up a few softies shortly before his reassignment to Hamilton.

Alex Kovalev and Tomas Plekanec have led the charge for the Habs with 4 points in those two games. The Caps exciting young defenceman Mike Green led the Caps with four points of his own in those two games, Alexander Ovechkin and rookie sensation Nicklas Backstrom have three points apiece.

It's a showdown of two of the league's hottest teams, the Habs are 7-2-1 in their last ten and Washington is 7-3-0 over the same span.

I expect the Canadiens to get the win unless they have problems in goal. The other factor for the Habs is scoring first. Le Tricolore is 21-2-6 when they get on the board before their opponent. Washington has had more difficulty in the same circumstances, going 14-7-0.

The Ottawa Senators are in Uniondale to face the Islanders. They have a six-point lead over the Habs but Montreal holds a game in hand.

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