The Habs will play host for the fifth and final time this season to a Western Conference opponent, the Habs are 4-0 in their previous meetings with the North West division this year beating Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton and Minnesota but don’t expect the Canadiens to pick up two points this evening. The Vancouver Canucks have suffered just one loss in their last nine games, and have won 4 consecutive on the road. The Canadiens on the other hand continue to struggle and have now dropped 8 of their last 12.
The North West division of which the Canucks currently rank 2nd just one point behind the Flames is the tightest division in the league with just six points separating the 5 teams. Their cousins in the North East have been no slouch either with all five teams in the hunt for playoff berths.
Tonight’s game is a homecoming for two former members of the Canadiens organization forward Jan Bulis, and head coach Alain Vigneault. Bulis left the Canadiens in the summer during free agency he signed a one year deal paying him 1.3 million dollars this season. Vigneault was fired with 20 games remaining during the 2000-2001 season, he was replaced by Michel Therrien.
Cristobal Huet will be back in goal for the Canadiens and will look to rebound after allowing 6 goals to the Senators in just under 24 minutes on Saturday afternoon. Huet has never recorded a win against the Canucks but has a lifetime goals against average of 2.09 and save percentage of .927 against Vancouver. Montreal native Roberto Luongo will be in goal for the Canucks despite taking a puck in the neck yesterday during practice. Luongo has a record of 6-7-3-2 all time against his home town team but this will be his first game as a Canuck in Montreal.
Garth Murray was waived by the Canadiens this morning and should he clear waivers he will report to the Hamilton Bulldogs. Radek Bonk appears close to returning to the Canadiens line-up and will be a game time decision. Steve Begin (ribs) is still on the injured reserve. Taylor Pyatt (broken thumb), Tommi Santala (knee), and Rick Rypien (groin) are out for Vancouver.
1. The Habs have not beaten the Canucks since November 30th 2000 s span of 9 games. During that span the Canucks outscored the Habs 34-16.
2. On the positive for the Canadiens they have never lost to the Canucks on a Tuesday in January.
3. Power play goals would be nice for the Canadiens especially a pair or more as the Canucks have not won a single game in regulation when they allow two or more power play goals. Their record in that situation this year is 0-7-2. However the Canadiens will be hard pressed to do so as the Canucks have the leagues best penalty kill and have allowed just two power play goals in their last seven games.
4. After a 17 game goalless drought Markus Naslund has scored twice in the last three games and picked up three assists during a three game point streak. Habs forward Sergei Samsonov goalless drought is now at 16 games.