With the Canadiens now holding and evaporating lead of just three points on the tenth place Maple Leafs and now on the out side of the Eastern Conference playoff race tonight’s and Saturday’s back-to-back home games against the Leafs will be vital for both teams endeavours to reach post season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs arrive in Montreal on the high of a two game winning streak. Mikael Tellqvist has become the go to goalie for the Leafs as veteran net minder Ed Belfour was placed on the Maple Leafs long term injured reserve this morning. Tellqvist has preformed well against the Canadiens in his short career with two wins and his only loss coming in overtime. Tonight’s game is the first of four straight the Leafs will play on the road.
The Montreal Canadiens are fresh off a 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders and have only won once in they’re past five games. Cristobal Huet is expected to start tonight for the Canadiens. Montreal has injury woes of their own as Andrei Markov and Craig Rivet are both game time decisions and Francis Bouillon will for sure be out of the line-up until Saturday at the earliest. Without Andrei Markov in the line-up the Canadiens have an atrocious record of 3-12 so it is vital for the Canadiens playoff aspirations that he returns ASAP.
Montreal Canadiens Head Coach and GM Bob Gainey has called out his captain Saku Koivu who is in the midst of his longest scoring drought of his professional career which currently now sits at 19 games. Koivu admitted that he must shoot the puck more and stop trying to force the unnecessary fancy passes.
1. Besides a penalty shot goal against the Penguins all eight of the Leafs last eight goals have come via the power play. For Montreal to win tonight, it will be imperative to play disciplined hockey.
2. Cristobal Huet has only lost once in regulation this season on home ice.
3. Mike Ribeiro will look to extend his five game point streak this evening, if he manages to do so it will be his second six game point streak of the season.