Preview: Atlanta at Montreal – October 20th,
The Habs will look to end their five-game
losing streak as they host the Atlanta Thrashers tonight at the Bell Centre.
The Habs (2-5-0) face the Thrashers (4-1-0) who have won their last 2 games and
sit second in the Southwest division. The two teams faced off 4 times last
season and split the season-series with the home squad winning each match in
front of their home crowd.
The Canadiens are among the league’s worst with
a 2.14 goals per game average, and feature Tomas Plekanec as their leading
scorer (2 goals, 4 assists). Conversely, the Thrashers are tied for first
with a 4.00 goals per game with Ilya Kovalchuk (7 goals, 1 assist) dominating in
a contract year. Jacques Martin hasn’t disclosed if Carey Price (2-4-0,
3.36 GAA, .886 SV%) or Jaroslav Halak (0-1-0, 3.58 GAA, .871 SV%) will get the
start tonight, but they will likely face Ondrej Pavelec (3-1-0, 2.76 GAA, .918
SV%) in the opposing crease.
It is a sharp contrast when it comes to special
teams. Atlanta sits number one in the league with a powerplay conversion
rate of 37.5%, going 6 for 16 over 5 games. Sitting in 24th are the
Canadiens with a dismal 15.4% success rate, having gone 4 for 24 over 7 games.
The Thrashers have also done well with their penalty-killing units, having
killed off 85% of their penalties, which is good for 8th place in the NHL.
Montreal again sits in the lower sixth of the league in this department,
managing only a 71.4% success rate (25th). To be successful, the Habs will
have to shut down Kovalchuk (2 powerplay goals) and Rich Peverley (3 powerplay
goals). No one from Montreal has scored more than one powerplay goal, so
the Habs will have to rely on their first powerplay trio of Scott Gomez, Brian
Gionta and Mike Cammalleri to begin contributing with the man advantage.
Montreal’s powerplay should be boosted with the
arrival of Marc André Bergeron who has historically contributed on the powerplay
with his booming shot from the point. Newly-recalled and conditioned from
Hamilton, where he tallied 6 assists in 3 games, Bergeron will see regular
ice-time with Paul Mara and on the powerplay. Little other lineup changes
are expected, as Glen Metropolit (bruised ribs) has yet to be medically cleared
Watch the Habs seek their first home win at
7:30 EST on RDS and TSN.
This preview was written by Matt