The final four games of the Habs 2008-09 up-and-down season start this evening. Montreal will play Ottawa at home, in what is always a tough divisional match. The Canadiens after having yesterday off, will finish the season with four games in six nights, two at home (Ottawa, Pittsburgh) and two on the road (New York Rangers, Boston).
After a terrible start to the season forced Ottawa to fire their new head coach, the Senators have climbed back to the .500 mark with some vastly improved play. While it is a case of too-little-too-late to reach the playoffs, most NHL players still put a lot on the line during these types of games, given motivating factors such as pride, competitiveness
& the purpose of playing for their next contract. This game should in no way be considered an easy match. The Habs have some question marks for their top two offensive defencemen for tonight, since both Andrei Markov and Mathieu Schneider suffered injuries in last Saturday’s game and did not return. Coach Bob Gainey has said that Markov is expected to play, no definitive status was given to Schneider.
Les Canadiens have struggled since the Bob Gainey-Guy Carbonneau coaching turnover on March 9th; the team sputtered in neutral with only one win in their first six games under head coach Gainey. However, their next six games were greatly improved, with five wins in six games, including their current three game winning streak. This has placed the team in the 7th playoff position, with 92 points in 78 games. The 8th playoff spot is currently held by the New York Rangers, with 89 points in 79 games, and Florida is in the 9th place with the same number of points & games.
While fan’s optimism in this team has rebounded from the same time last month, the players can not afford to get comfortable in any of the remaining four games. Their destiny is truly in their own hands.