Well, it appears the Canadiens will begin their post Olympic schedule with all six of their Olympians in uniform. Although the mystery remains how much influence these players will have on the outcome of tonight’s proceedings. The biggest question marks will be that of Jan Bulis, Alex Kovalev, Andrei Markov and Saku Koivu who have all yet to experience a full Canadiens practice in 17 days. Saku Koivu met with Bob Gainey yesterday and although he will be in the line-up tonight he will be skipping a few practices and pre game skates in the days to come over the Canadiens busy March schedule
Cristobal Huet will get the start between the Canadiens pipes tonight and it will be exciting to see how Huet can perform with the full pressure of the media that he is now the confirmed number one guy down the playoff stretch with Jose Theodore doubtful to play for the remainder of the regular season.
Tonight’s game is a very important one as the Canadiens who currently sit in 8th place just a single point and game at hand ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs who are also in action tonight against Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. This is the beginning of a six game road trip for the Canadiens all of which are against teams who are either currently in the playoff picture or within striking distance of the final playoff spot.
The Canadiens have played the islanders only once this season a number that will jump to four in just a month’s time. The only meeting between these two teams this season saw the Canadiens enjoy a late first period two goal lead on the back of two power play goals of which Saku Koivu had a hand in both. However that lead was erased by two Islanders power play goals both courtesy of Miroslav Satan. With the game tied in the third period the Canadiens outscored the Isles two to one on the back of even strength goals from Steve Begin and Chris Higgins. Of note there were sixteen minor penalties between the two clubs in that contest and the Canadiens out shot the islanders 32-22.
Game Time Fun Facts
1. The Canadiens are winless in their last six games on Long Island only once scoring more than a single goal.
2. Cristobal has only played the Islanders once in his career making 36 saves on 37 shots en route to a 1-1 tie.
3. Alexei Yashin has 51 points in 46 games against the Montreal Canadiens.
4. Michael Ryder has only scored in one of his last 11 games.