Wake up Habs fans; the Canadiens are back in
action Friday night. After another long layoff which lasted 6 days and 5 nights
the Habs have had the lightest schedule thus far. Much of that can be attributed
to having just 4 games in the last 19 days; every team in the Eastern Conference
has played at least 2 games more than the Canadiens and the East leading New
York Rangers have played six more.
Both teams earned 3rd period comebacks to win their previous games; Columbus
came back from a 4-2 deficit on Wednesday while hosting the Edmonton Oilers.
R.J. Umberger has 4 goals in his last two games which should frighten the
Canadiens as just last May in the second round of the playoffs, Umberger scored
8 goals in the Flyers 5 games series win over the Habs. Montreal erased a larger
deficit in Long Island on Saturday night. Montreal trailed 4-1 with 12 minutes
left in the 3rd period but then Montreal was awoken by Alex Kovalev & Tomas
Plekanec whom each picked up 2 goals and 2 assists in the Canadiens 5-4 win.
Columbus has lost 5 of its last 7 games and it appears that they will retain
their title as the only team in the league to have never made the playoffs.
Montreal and Columbus have only played seven times since the Blue Jackets joined
the league in the 2000-01 season. The Habs’ all time record against Columbus is
3-2-1-1, and Montreal is 2-0 in Columbus.
Chris Higgins will return to the wing of Saku Koivu Friday nigh for what appears
to be a permanent change. Higgins scored the equalizer against the Islanders
while playing with Koivu and Alex Tanguay. Guillaume Latendresse will be the
casualty as he will be dropped to the “third” line with Sergei Kostitsyn and
Robert Lang. Jaroslav Halak will get the start in goal for the Canadiens, his
last start since he allowed 4 goals on just 12 shots to the Anaheim Ducks but
kept his unbeaten in regulation record at the Bell Centre because Price allowed
the 5th and game deciding goal.
It appears as though Steve Mason will get his 2nd career start; the Oakville,
Ontario native and former London Knight will be playing against former teammate
Sergei Kostitsyn. Mason was drafted 69th overall in 2006. Mason made 26 saves in
his debut against the Oilers.
1. Alex Tanguay has 23 points in 26 games against Columbus and has a +17 rating.
2. Last year on the night of Bob Gainey’s jersey retirement, Columbus shutout
the Canadiens 3-0 (in what may have been the most boring game of the season)
3. Both Price and Halak have one career start against Columbus. Price has a loss
and Halak a win (his first NHL start.)