GAME: Detroit Red Wings (3-1-0-0) at Montreal Canadiens (3-2-0-0).
TIME: Monday, 7:30 p.m. EDT.
(HW) The winners of the 2002 Stanley Cup are in town tonight. Led by their offensive defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom and Mathieu Schneider, the Detroit Red Wings will try to get back on track with a win, after losing their first game of the season againts rookie M.A. Fleury at Pittsburgh Saturday evening. That loss will probably serve as a lesson for tonight, as the powerful offensive team will try to beat inexperienced netminder Mathieu Garon. This will be the first start of the season for Garon, the 22nd of his career. In an interview with the Journal de Montréal, Garon said he doesn’t mind playing against a Cup contender or any another team. He’ll only try to stay focused.
Julien’s strategy has been working good so far; playing Theodore against Pittsburgh to be sure to collect those important points. Also, this gives a message to his team : He wants to win every game, and he wants to make the playoffs. Benching Theodore against Detroit instead of Pittsburgh brings benefits on many fronts. First, it gives Theodore a better rest. Secondly, it gives a better challenge for Garon who will want to excel, so that he could potentially play more games.
Thankfully for Garon, the Habs defense looks very good thus far, early in the season. The team has allowed 8 goals, good for a 1.66 goals against average (4th in the League). Five of the eight goals goals came in the first game of the season against Ottawa! So that means the Canadiens have allowed only 3 goals in his last 4 games. Led by Andrei Markov (Habs Leading Scorer), Patrice Brisebois (+3), and Sheldon Souray (ice time AVR 22:32), the defense has been solid at both ends of the rink.
Montreal’s offense is also producing better than expected, in part with the surprising play of rookie winger Michael Ryder, (17 shots, 13th in the NHL), but especially with the emergence of Mike Ribeiro (5 points, 13th in the NHL).
(Heather Engel from canadiens.com) At a glance: The Canadiens will kick off the second half of their six-game homestand with an “Original Six” matchup against Detroit tonight, and for the occasion they will be wearing the vintage jerseys that were unveiled a few weeks ago. Tonight’s game is the only meeting between these two clubs this season and the first time they are meeting at the Bell Centre in two seasons; last year, the Habs won the game between the two played in Detroit. Although the Canadiens were shut out on Saturday, they remain one of the best offensive teams in the league. Along with Detroit, they have averaged three goals per game, tied for fifth in the league. The penalty-killing unit remained strong on Saturday despite all the penalties, allowing just the one goal on seven Toronto power plays. Montreal will look to keep the penalties to a minimum against Detroit’s strong power play unit. The Canadiens have only allowed three goals in their last four games and with a goals-against average of 1.60, stand third in the league. Detroit is looking to regroup after losing its first of the season on Saturday night against Pittsburgh. After leading 3-1, the Wings gave up three unanswered goals to fall to the Penguins, 4-3. Head coach Dave Lewis cited “defensive breakdows” as part of the reason behind his team’s fall. Off the ice, Detroit has suffered literally in that regard, as D Derian Hatcher has been lost for four to six months with a torn ACL.
Red Wings to watch: The crowd at the Bell Centre will get to see G Dominik Hasek for the first time with Red Wings; the last time they got a glimpse of Hasek, he was the backstop in Buffalo. Hasek has started all four games this season and has a goals-against average of 2.49. Another former member of the Sabres making his home in Detroit is D Jason Woolley, who made his season debut the other night in place of Hatcher. RW Brett Hull returned to the lineup Saturday after he missed Thursday’s game with a sore back. D Nicklas Lidstrom leads his club in goals and points with two and five, respectively. He also spent the most time on the ice of any of the Wings on Saturday, logging a healthy 29:55. LW Brendan Shanahan is the team’s top forward with a goal and three assists; he’s third on the club overall behind Lidstrom and D Mathieu Schneider. Backup goalies Manny Legace and Curtis Joseph have yet to see some ice time; who will be the first one to get the start is anyone’s guess.
Canadiens to watch: After a tough collision with linemate Donald Audette, RW Michael Ryder only missed a few shifts before getting back in action on Saturday. He has been a bright star in the lineup, shooting at the net when the opportunity arises and providing some spark to Audette and C Yanic Perreault. The rookie from Newfoundland has four points in five games and ranks among the top three rookies in the league in goals (one), assists (three), points and plus/minus differential (plus-3). G Jose Theodore was solid for the Canadiens on Saturday but he’ll get a rest tonight as G Mathieu Garon gets his first taste of action in this young 2003-2004 season. Garon had a solid training camp; his last appearance in nets ended in a 3-2 win over Minnesota in preseason action. D Francis Bouillon made his season debut on Saturday night. Paired with Patrice Brisebois, he logged 12:02 of ice time. D Sheldon Souray logged the most ice time, at 24:44; a lot of that time was spent successfully killing off penalties.
(AP) STANDINGS: Red Wings – 6 points, 1st place (tied), Central Division. Canadiens – 6 points, 3rd place, 2 PB, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Red Wings – Tomas Holmstrom, Nicklas Lidstrom and Steve Yzerman, 2 goals; Mathieu Schneider, 5 assists; Schneider and Lidstrom, 5 points; Kris Draper and Darren McCarty, 9 PIM. Canadiens – Yanic Perreault and Mike Ribeiro, 3 goals; Andrei Markov, 4 assists; Markov, Perreault and Ribeiro, 5 points; Jason Ward, 13 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 18): Red Wings – Power play: 33.3 percent (8 for 24), 1st (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 89.5 percent (17 for 19), 5th. Canadiens – Power play: 23.8 percent (5 for 21), 8th. Penalty killing: 84 percent (21 for 25), 12th (tied).
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Canadiens, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Oct. 17, 2002; Canadiens, 3-2. At Detroit, the Candiens scored twice in the third period, including Markov’s eventual game-winner at 9:52. Joseph stopped 11 shots for Detroit.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Wings – 1-1-0-0 on the road; Canadiens – 2-1-0-0 at home.