Montreal Canadiens (20-16-2) at Florida Panthers (16-17-1) – December 31st, 2010
The best part about today’s match-up is that it’s the final game of what has turned out to be a brutal 7-game road trip. The Montreal Canadiens play Florida tonight at the BankAtlantic Center, and are then home to the Thrashers Sunday afternoon. The Habs have lost six of their last seven. The Panthers are 3-1-1 in their past five.
Florida sits dead last in the league in PP percentage, with a dreadful 9.4%. Montreal is at 17.6%, good enough for 15th. On the penalty kill side of things, Montreal continues to be spectacular, second in the league with 87.3%. Florida is not that bad either, with a PK percentage of 84.6.
The Canadiens have been outscored 21-9 on this road trip, and the offence is struggling mightily to produce. No matter how well Carey Price plays, he can’t keep out every puck, and it’s common knowledge the way you win a game is by scoring just one more goal than the opposition. So unless the forwards suddenly remember how to do this, there won’t be any wins.
James Wisnewski, playing his first game as a Canadien, was a +1 last night and showed exactly how he can help the Habs: by playing 21:48, by looking comfortable and able competent on the PP, and by making his partner, Yannick Weber, suddenly look better. Or at least, not as bad. And while Roman Hamrlik played under 20 minutes on Thursday, he’s definitely looking worn out. He served two penalties, and is showing signs of strain.
Carey Price was pulled late in the third against Tampa Bay, so we may see Alex Auld in the net against one of his former teams. Former Hab Tomas Vokoun will probably get the start for Florida.
Game starts at 5:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on RDS and TSN-Alternate.