First off, sorry in advance for all of the cheesy Christmas comments, but you’re going to hear a lot of them this time of year. After being handed a heartbreaking 4-2 loss by the Leafs on Saturday, the Habs return to action tonight when the lowly Penguins come to town. Mats Sundin’s goal in the dying seconds of Saturday night’s game, a rather ordinary wrist shot off of the right wing which happened to graze the stick of Francis Bouillon and fly over the shoulder of Jose Theodore, prooved that our beloved CH were really just another brick in the wall for those hated Leafs. Nonetheless, Theodore will be, according to RDS, returning to the cage tonight to face the Lemieux-less Penguins.
Should the Habs win tonight, and the odds are good, considering this is a Pittsburgh team that has not won in it’s last nine trips to Montreal, it may just be a win-win situation for all of us who have not yet started our shopping duties. After all, tonight is Mathieu Garon bobblehead night, and if you are one of the lucky fans in attendance, you may come home with a little something to stuff under the tree. Garon will play tomorrow night when the Habs fly off to Washington for a pre-Christmas tilt.
Yanic Perreault and Patrice Brisebois continue to nurse their respective injuries, and while Perreault’s abscence is a little less noticeable, Patrice Brisebois’ health is the number one thing on coach’s Christmas list. Even though he is a right-shot and plays the right side of the rink, you have to wonder if Julien wouldn’t mind flipping ‘Breezer’, or one of his many right-handed defenceman, over to the left side after the team’s resident mighty-mouse, Francis Bouillon was the one partially responsible for a pair of Leaf markers.
Benoit Gratton, recalled from Hamilton last week, had a strong game in place of Perreault on Saturday, dishing out a pair of hits and even working hard to create offensive oppurtunities. Donald Audette failed to find a spot in the lineup during the trip to Toronto, as his contributions were more than made up for by big Pierre Dagenais. The 25-year-old, 6’5 winger could benefit from a few steroids in his stocking, but his deadly and explosive shot adds another much needed weapon to the team’s offensive arsenal. Dagenais’ 3rd goal of the season came on a blistering shot from the right circle, one that found the top of the net, gliding cooly over the shoulder of Ed Belfour. Continue to keep your eye on Dagenais tonight, too. As he continues to make his way up Santa Claude’s naughty or nice list, the native of Blainville, Quebec may be in for another big game. ‘Dags’ has registered three points in as many career games versus the Pens.
Also, keep a close eye on captain Saku Koivu, the Habs’ gritty leader has 33 points, including 15 goals, in 27 games against the Pens. He will be looking to continue to generate the same offensive chances he did with his linemates, Jan Bulis and Mike Ryder, as he did against the Leafs.
Memo to Sebastian Caron : don’t pay any attention to the flashing red light behind you. It ain’t Rudolph, it’s just Sheldon Souray lighting you up. In his past four games, Souray has been hotter than hell, putting up seven points. The burly rearguard continues to lead all defencemen in goals scored, a hefty accomplishment for a man who one year ago was not only home for Christmas, but for every other day of the year. Welcome back Sheldon, see you in the All-Star game.
Catch the game on RDS at 7:30 ET(4:30 PT) or tune your radio into CJAD-800. Don’t have access to either? Drop by the HW Forum and tell us your thoughts on not only tonight’s game, but the Habs in general.