Vincent Lecavalier will bring his Tampa Bay Lightning to Montreal on Tuesday, a night which would be a perfect time for the skilled centreman to break-out of his five game pointless streak. Despite his cold streak, the Lightning are still holding down second place in the Southeast division, with an 11-4-4-1 record. Neither team was victorious in their last match, as the Habs skated to a 1-1 draw with the Panthers, while Tampa was bolted by Pasi Nurminen and the Thrashers. Tuesday is also Andrei Markov bobblehead night at the Bell Centre, but do not expect to see the talented Russian rearguard in the line-up.
Markov suffered a bruised ankle against the Capitals, and though he is listed as day-to-day, coach Claude Julien has already hinted towards giving his top defenceman another night off. Meanwhile, Jan Bulis also was the victim of an unfortunate ankle injury against Florida on Saturday. Bulis did not skate in practice, but it is likely fans will see the hardworking Czech in uniform on Tuesday.
Assuming that Markov does not dress, Mike Komisarek will be assured a third game with the Habs. After his promotion from the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs, Komisarek has played solid for Coach Julien, and it appears he may be in Montreal to stay. While he was used sparingly for just 9:57 of ice time against the Panthers, the former first round draft choice has certainly not been out of place. Pierre Dagenais was held pointless against his former team on the weekend, but he has managed to record a pair of points since being recalled along with Komisarek. It is expected that the 6’5″ winger will continue to display his size and heavy shot alonside Mike Ribeiro on Tuesday night.
Continuing with the Canadiens, rookie forward Michael Ryder notched his club’s lone goal on Saturday, his fifth, to further increase his point total to 13. Alongside Richard Zednik and Saku Koivu, the surprising Ryder is not slowing down. On the other hand, it appears Saku Koivu has been quite the opposite of his young linemate since returning from a bitter knee injury. With 6 points, all assists, through his first 11 games, Koivu will be looked to for more offence. There’s no questioning the gritty captain’s desire and work ethic, but many fans expect a little more production out of the star. Make no mistake, Koivu has played a large role in the improved play of linemate and sniper Richard Zednik. However, after posting three points in as many games, Tampa Bay will surely be looking to shutdown the Habs’ captain.
Those at the Bell Centre should be prepared for yet another superb goaltending match-up. After being treated to the stellar work of Roberto Luongo and Jose Theodore, another low scoring game is not out of the question. John Grahame was given the start for the ‘Bolts on Saturday, paving the way for a Nik Khabibulin – Jose Theodore showdown. Both goalies have been hot, with Khabibulin posting a scorching 1.28 GAA and a stellar 9.54 SV% in his past three outings. Theodore, who stopped 23 of the 24 shots directed his way against the Panthers, won the Molson Cup on Monday, the award given each month to the Habs’ MVP.
The puck is dropped at 7:30 ET, in a game which should be an exciting one to watch. This is the team’s first of four meetings this season, but the two sides will meet again on December 13th in Tampa Bay, where the loser will have another shot at victory. The 24th ranked Habs powerplay should be in tough against the superb Lightning penalty kill, ranked fourth in the NHL.