The Montreal Canadiens are on the road today to face the New Jersey Devils. This match is always a difficult one for the Habs, since Martin Brodeur plays some of his best hockey against his home town team, the team he cheered for as a young boy.
“The first games against them were a lot different than now,” said Brodeur, who posted a 2-1 win at Montreal on Nov. 4 and is 30-12-5 with a 1.79 goals-against average against the Canadiens all-time. “I love playing against them. I really do it for my family. My nephew, Philippe, goes to school in Montreal and he gets ripped every single time (if the Devils lose). So when I’m able to win a game for him, he’s able to hold his head up the while time until I play them again. In the back of my head, I’m always thinking about him.”
Brodeur was nearly a scratch for tonight’s game. During yesterday’s practice, he cut his ring finger on his blocking hand on his right skate. He left the ice to get the finger bandaged up, and returned later. “It’s fine now,” Brodeur said. “It didn’t really hurt. My blocker is full of blood. I didn’t like that. It took me two drills to realize that my hand was covered with blood.” Tonight’s game will be Brodeur’s 19th consecutive start in net.
The Habs are coming off of an up and down performance Monday night, losing to the Boston Bruins 6-5. That game saw a great deal of momentum changes, as both teams’s held a dominating position in the game and different points. Head Coach Guy Carbonneau announced that David Aebischer will get the start in goal tonight. Carbonneau said he expects more effort from his 2nd line, whose production has been sporadic. The third line has been a real bonus, with every player in the plus side.
The Devils are currently on a 5 game winning streak at home, and have a record of 9-1-0-1 at home so far this season. Les Canadiens will counter with a strong road record to date, with a 7-4-0-1. However, the Habs are 0-6-1 in their last seven games in New Jersey. In the Habs favour is the fact they have not lost two consecutive games so far this season, so expect a more consistent effort tonight.
Predicted Montreal Lineup:
Guillaume Latendresse- Saku Koivu – Michael Ryder
Sergei Samsonov – Tomas Plekanec – Alexei Kovalev
Mike Johnson – Radek Bonk – Alex Perezhogin
Garth Murray – Steve Begin – Mark Streit
Michael Komisarek – Andrei Markov
Sheldon Souray – Mathieu Dandenault
Craig Rivet – Francis Bouillon
Scratches & Injuries: Cristobal Huet [scratch], Aaron Downey [scratch], Chris Higgins [high ankle sprain; expected back December mid-to-late December], Janne Niinama [scratch]
Predicted New Jersey Lineup:
Patrik Elias – Scott Gomez – Brian Gionta
Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Jamie Langenbrunner
Jay Pandolfo – John Madden – Sergei Brylin
Eric Rasmussen – Jim Dowd – Mike Rupp
Colin White – Brian Rafalski
Johnny Oduya – Paul Martin
Brad Lukowich – David Hale
Scratches & Injuries: Richard Matvichuk [back, long term injury], Alexander Mogilny [hip, long term injury], Jason Wiemer [knee surgery, expected back February 2007]
Habs Notes: Michael Ryder is leading the NHL with first goals scored; 5 of his 7 goals fall into that category…Koivu & Markov skipped yesterday’s practice, with the go ahead from the coaches…During that practice, things got a little heated between Steve Begin and Aaron Downey. Both players later admitted there was nothing to the on ice incident, and Carbonneau had not problems with it either. It won’t be unusual if the media in Quebec over dramatize this incident…Alexander Perezhogin’s plus 13 is among the league leaders in that category.
Devils Dues: The building of a new hockey arena for the Devils has begun, and is expected to be ready for their opening night game in October 2007. A separate practice arena is part of the facility, as well as increased seating, more luxury boxes, and many other state of the art technologies…Tonight will be ex Habs head coach Claude Julien’s second chance to face his former team since he was fired last January….New Jersey played their 2500th regular season franchise game last Friday versus Pittsburgh, including 160 games in Kansas City, 480 in Colorado, and 1860 in New Jersey…Brodeur’s career record against Montreal is 30-12-5. Should he win tonight, he will move into a tie for second in all time wins with Ed Belfour at 461.