The top two first year scorers in the NHL meet tonight in a battle of the bottom two seeded teams in the NHL’s Eastern Conference playoff race. A win would solidify seventh place for the Habs, while two points for the Islanders who have them breathing much more comfortably.
Michael Ryder has a 12-point lead on tonight’s competition in Trent Hunter when it comes to the rookie scoring race. Hunter, another hard working forward, leads his team in scoring with 48 points, and impressive mark when you consider that he’s lining up alongside the likes of Mike Peca, Mark Parrish, and Alex Yashin.
The Habs very own Alex, that being Mr. Kovalev, will be playing alongside some new linemates, or so it seems. Skating alongside speedster Jan Bulis and 78-year-old Joe Juneau, Kovalev will finally be the lone offensive talent on a line. While it could be said that Bulis has some offensive skills, and he does, he’s not in the same category as Kovy’s former linemates in Ribeiro, Koivu, Zednik, Ryder, and co.
And, after listing four of the team’s current top six forwards, who am I leaving out? Well, it unfortunately appears that Pierre Dagenais (who plays more like Julia Roberts on stilts) will make his much unanticipated return to the formation, likely alongside Ryder and Ribeiro.
Jose Theodore is your probable starter, while top-notch youngster Rick DiPietro is your best bet for the Isles. The former number-one pick has put up some good numbers this years, hauling 21 wins, a 2.35 GAA, and a .912 SV%. He appears to have gone cold of late, going 0-2 with a GAA above 3.00 and a SV% below .900. Nonetheless, the 5’11Winthropp, MA native will be looking to garner the victory for his club.
Another player who will be looking to earn the victory will be Mariusz Czerkawski. While he’s not a guy who we’d label as a hardworker, The Chow has picked up 23 goals this year, which is about 23 more than he scored last season. The Polish Prince should have a hard time tonight, though, especially if he’s popped by a Steve Begin shoulder.
There’s some sort of saying that’s always tossed around at this time of year, I believe it goes something along the lines of April showers, bring May flowers. It seems that our Habs have forgone the shower aspect, as we’ve flat out stunk the past week. A win tonight, even with a few guys out battling the flu, and I’m sure those past three off games would be all but forgotten.