The Montreal Canadiens play Tampa Bay tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum. Montreal has just two games left in its seemingly never-ending road trip, throughout which their record has been 1-4. Tampa is 6-0-2 in its last eight yet has struggled this week. They scraped past the Atlanta Thrashers on Sunday, barely winning in OT, and then lost to Boston 4-3 on Tuesday.
In the special teams matchup, there are some worrying stats. Montreal has allowed each of its last two opponents eight power-play chances, and although Washington went 0 for 8, killing penalties is a drain on the whole team (do we really want to see Weber, Picard, Pouliot and Pacioretty on the PK? Although, credit due, they didn’t give up a single goal.) The Lightning, on the other hand, have only converted twice in their past 11 power plays.
Seeing as the Habs were shut out in their last game and scored only one goal in the match before that, there are no streaks to report. It is worthy to note though that Tomas Plekanec is the first Canadien to reach the 30-point mark, with Mike Cammalleri right behind him with 27.
For Tampa Bay, Vincent Lecavalier has 4 goals in his last three games. Steven Stamkos has three goals and two assists in the past three games. As an interesting side point, Stamkos and Martin St. Louis have also became the first teammates in the NHL this season to combine for 100 points, with 52 and 48 respectively.
James Wisnewski, acquired this Tuesday by Montreal, will join the team in Florida after a slight delay getting out of New York’s messy airport situation, due to severe snowstorms. The 5’11 and 208 lbs defenseman had 21 points (3 goals, 18 assists) this season with the Islanders while averaging 23:14 of ice time.
Hopefully, this will mean that Josh Gorges can continue getting his well-deserved rest. It’ll be a relief for the rest of the D to have a veteran (286 NHL games) to share the minutes and power-play time with.
Tampa Bay goalie Mike Smith (knee) and forward Steve Downie (ankle) are on injured reserve.
I’m looking for the Habs to regroup in the Sunshine State and remember how successful they were earlier in the season. If they can dust off the way they played then, and show some team spirit, they might yet pull out some points on this trip and turn things around.
Game starts at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on RDS and TSN-Alternate.