The red hot Canadiens, currently on a 5 game winning streak, are visiting Ottawa in the nation’s capital tonight for their last match against the Habs for the 2006-07 season. Previously, the Senators hold the advantage in head to head games so far this season, with a 4-3-0 record against Montreal, including a 2-1-0 record in Ottawa. With the Canadiens playing so desperately to make the playoffs, they have managed to win the last seven of their eight games, to crawl back into a tie for eight place in the Eastern conference.
One of Ottawa’s key leaders, Wade Redden, is uncertain if he’s ready to start tonight. He’s currently recovering from a groin injury that has caused him to miss their last game Tuesday night. Montreal hopes that he is unable to play, since the Senators have a 6-11-1 record without him in the lineup, while playing at a 39-13-7 clip with him on the ice.
Head coach Guy Carbonneau’s latest forward line combinations have paid big dividends, as the Habs have pushed hard to attain the 8th playoff spot in the Eastern conference. Several forwards and defencemen have been contributing a great deal to the offence: Saku Koivu (5 A, 2 Games), Alex Kovalev (4 G, 2 Games), Tomas Plekanec (3 G, 2 A, 3 Games), Michael Ryder (2 G, 1 A, 2 Games), Andrei Kostitsyn (1 G, 7 A, 7 Games), Andrei Markov (1 G, 3 A, 3 Games), Mark Streit (1 G, 2 A, 3 Games)
The rebound of rookie goalie Jaroslav Halak has helped a great deal, and the team has played with more confidence over the past 2 weeks. Cristobal Huet has been practicing with the club, and is close to ready. There are rumours that he may start the next game Saturday night against Buffalo, but the Montreal coaching staff has been very quiet about predicting a return for their #1 goalie. The Canadiens medical staff hase cleared Huet to play today. Carbonneau has indicated that he will ride the hot Halak while the team continues to win games. *UPDATE* RDS posted an article today that stated the Canadiens medical staff has *not* cleared Huet to play yet.
Starting Goalies: Jaroslav Halak (Montreal), Ray Emery (Ottawa)
Habs Notes: The Bell Centre was a buzz Thursday night, as the team held a tribute dinner for Habs legend Jean Beliveau. The formal affair drew the likes of Canadiens greats Guy Lafleur, Elmer Lach, Dickie Moore, Henri Richard, Frank Mahovlich, Serge Savard, Larry Robinson, Guy Lapointe, Yvan Cournoyer, Emile (Butch) Bouchard, Tony Esposito, as well as current Habs captain Saku Koivu, coach Guy Carbonneau and GM Bob Gainey. Several business leaders, politicians including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and many others attended the affair, which raised approximately $1,000,000 for six children’s hospital and charities in the area. Larry Robinson had this to say about Beliveau: “I just remember that when he entered a room he had an aura about him. I always tried to emulate him on and off the ice.” Detroit legend Gordie Howe, shared this story about playing against Beliveau: “The only thing I wondered about Big Jean was if he was mean enough to be a hockey player. Was there a little toughness in him?
So I took a little run at him and he just smiled. So I said ‘He’s OK.’ That was the only time. Now I’ve golfed and fished with him and although we didn’t play together, I consider us friends.” … Tonight an alumni game between Montreal and Boston greats will take place in Montreal. Ray Bourque and Guy Lafleur are among the stars to play at the Bell Centre. The charitable event is to raise funds for the Montreal Canadiens’ Children’s Foundation. Canadiens Roster: Guy Lafleur, Claude Lemieux, Larry Robinson, Vincent Damphousse, Craig Ludwig, Yvon Lambert, Rod Langway, Sergio Momesso, Gilbert Delorme, Normand Dupont, Enrico Ciccone, Marc Bureau, Stephane Quintal, Richard Sevigny, Stephane Richer, Shayne Corson, Donald Audette, Chris Nilan and Eric Desjardins. Bruins Roster: Raymond Bourque, Rick Middleton, Terry O’Reilly, Tom Fitzgerald, Gary Doak, Don Sweeney, P.J. Stock, Steve Kasper, Kenny Linseman, Bob Beers, Teddy Donato, Bob Sweeney, Steve Leach, Tim Sweeney, Andy Brickley, Louis Sleigher, Billy O’Dwyer and Cleon Daskalakis.
Senators Notes: Ottawa defenceman Anton Volchenkov has been nominated by his team for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, for “qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey”. Volcheknov, primarily a defensive oriented player, is often paired up against the opposition’s top forwards this season. He leads the NHL in blocked shots with 262….Patrick Eaves is unlikely to be in the lineup tonight, after having a puck shot at his groin (ouch!) in Tuesday night’s game against the Boston Bruins. He tried to skate in practice Thursday for a few seconds but took the day off instead. Dany Heatley also had a minor ankle injury in the same game, but played through it and is still expected to play tonight.