Fresh off a narcolepsy-inducing loss to New
Jersey last night, the Habs will host the Minnesota Wild for the only time this
season. The Canadiens extended their losing streak to 4 games, all decided
by one goal, and are one loss away from matching their season-high record of
futility. Even while sitting 11th in the Western Conference, the Wild are
one of the league’s hottest teams, and have gone 8-2-0 in their last 10 games.
Montreal is 3-5-2 in the last 10 games, and have struggled mightily to muster up
any semblance of consistency. The two clubs played only once last year,
with Montreal taking the win by a score of 2-1.
Carey Price (9-12-3, 2.73 GAA, .913 SV%) will
get the start in net tonight, despite having played last night in New Jersey.
Price turned away 25 of 27 shots, but his weak glove hand contributed to a fluky
goal for the Devils and he will surely be looking to redeem himself.
Niklas Backstrom will play tonight for the Wild, and has lately been earning his
$6 million salary, going 7-1-1 with a 1.97 GAA & .923 SV% in his last nine
games. Backstrom lost his only game against Montreal while Price is 1-0-0
against the Wild.
Despite being held off the scoresheet last
night. Tomas Plekanec leads the Habs in scoring with 34 points (6G, 28A) in 35
linemates, Mike Cammalleri (18G,
12A) and Andrei Kostitsyn (8G, 11A) round out the scoring leaders for Montreal.
The Wild are led by Mikko Koivu (9G, 23A) and Andrew Brunette (10G, 18A),
although Martin Havlat (4G, 13A) has been heating up, and has 6 points in his last
3 games. Both Montreal and Minnesota struggle offensively, with the Wild
(2.52 goals per game, 23rd in the NHL) performing marginally better than
Montreal (2.43, 27th). Similarly, both teams fare about the same
defensively, with Minnesota’s defense (2.76 GAA, 13th in the NHL) faring
slightly better than Montreal’s (2.83 GAA, 18th)
Although powerplay opportunities are rare for
the Canadiens (30th in the league), they employ the 10th best powerplay record
(20.4%). Minnesota struggles with the man advantage (17.8%, 23rd in the
NHL) and haven’t converted their last 19 powerplay opportunities. The two
teams fare almost equally in the penalty-kill department with Montreal (84%,
8th) slightly superior to Minnesota (82.3%, 12th). Montreal desperately
needs to become more disciplined, as the Canadiens now lead the league in
shorthanded instances (156 times).
The Wild are plagued by concussion problems,
and will be missing Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Petr Sykora, Brent Burns and Andrew
Ebbett as a result. Josh Harding (flu) and Owen Nolan (leg) are
questionable for tonight. Andrei Markov (ankle), Brian Gionta (foot), and
Roman Hamrlik (knee) are out with injuries for Montreal. Benoit Pouliot (wrist)
is presently undergoing a conditioning stint with Montreal’s AHL affiliate, but
has yet to play a game. Yannick Weber has been called up as a result of Hamrlik injuring himself last night
but is not expected to play. Gionta skated on his own today, but
his return to the lineup isn’t anticipated in the near future. Andrei
Markov will meet with team doctors today to update his rehabilitation schedule.
This will be Guillaume Latendresse’s first game against his former club, and he
has 3 goals and 1 assist in the 10 games since being traded. Similarly,
this will be Marc-André Bergeron’s first game against the Wild since being
signed as a free-agent by Montreal.
The puck drops at 7:00 and can be seen on RDS
This preview was written by Matt