It is another must win situation in what seems like months of must win games for the Habs. The Montreal Canadiens will take to the ice tonight in what could possibly be the final home game of the regular season should the team fail to make the post-season. The Boston Bruins are in town for the eighth and final match up between the two teams this season.
Montreal only has three games left in their season and currently hold a one point lead on the ninth place Toronto Maple Leafs who host the Habs this Saturday in what could be the Canadiens’ most important regular season game in years. The Habs are also in New York to face the Rangers on Thursday.
While Montreal is fighting for their playoff lives, many of the young Boston players are fighting for roster spots next season. Having been officially eliminated from the playoffs, there isn’t a ton left for the Bruins to play for. However, that doesn’t mean you can mail this one in. Boston would likely love to play spoiler tonight and come up with a big win in order to drag the Habs down with them.
Jaroslav Halak gets the call in net for the eighth straight game. The 21 year-old rookie netminder is seeking this tenth win of his season; his record since being called up from the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs is 9-4-0. Meanwhile, the native of Bratislava, Slovakia has a GAA of 3.03 and a .901 save percentage.
Meanwhile, Cristobal Huet received medical clearance from the doctors Monday morning and will play the role of backup tonight. In 40 appearances this season, Huet has a record of 19-15-3 with a GAA of 2.74 and a .918 save percentage. The 31 year-old was also named to the Eastern All-Star Team this year after posting some of the league’s best numbers. Huet has missed the last 20 games with the hamstring injury he suffered in a match against the New Jersey Devils on February 14th.
Goalie Tim Thomas is the likely starter for Boston, but he hasn’t won a game since March 15th, a 4-3 win versus the Washington Capitals. Goaltender has been a problem for the Bruins all season, having allowed the third most number of goals against with 277. Backup goaltender Joey MacDonald has received some starts more recently, but he hasn’t faired much better with only three wins on the season in 12 matches.
Both Montreal and Boston met late last month for a home-and-home series which Montreal gladly swept. The two wins were part of a five game winning streak for the Habs that ended with last Friday’s 5-2 loss to the Senators.
Halak registered his first career shutout in a 1-0 win versus Boston in the first game while Guillaume Latendresse netted the game’s only goal. Two nights later the Habs had goals from all four of their lines on route to a 6-3 victory against the Bruins.
Mark Streit was awarded the Jacques Beauchamp Trophy on Monday, April 2. The award, chosen by the media who cover the team on a regular basis, is given to the player of the Montreal Canadiens who has contributed the most with little attention going his way, basically an unsung hero award.
One of the few Swiss players in the NHL, Streit certainly deserves the award considering the solid season he’s having. In 73 games this season, Streit has amounted 10 goals and 25 assists for 35 points. Incase you’re wondering, that ties him for seventh place on the team with winger Christopher Higgins.
Streit had played his entire career as a defenseman before being moved to a forward position more permanently this season. After accustoming himself to the position, the new found forward became an important piece to the Montreal puzzle. His ability to successfully fill a forward role five-on-five and then move back on defense to play the point on the powerplay makes Streit quite versatile.
Streit was also named as Montreal’s nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which goes to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication” to the game of hockey.
Saku Koivu, who scored the game winning goal agains the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night, will be looking for more ice time tonight. After Koivu refused to meet with media after the win, it was assumed that the Habs’ Captain was miffed over the low amount of ice time he received. The 32 year-old played 11:06, a full seven minutes lower than the 18 he has averaged per game this season.
In seven games versus the Bruins this season, Montreal holds a 4-3 edge. Surprisingly, not a single game needed extra time to conclude.