Habs fans are breathing a sigh of relief, as news emerged yesterday that Tomas Plekanec and Jeff Halpern did not suffer long term injuries, as both players are officially listed as day-to-day. As a precaution, the Canadiens have called up recently acquired Nigel Dawes, and Aaron Palushaj from the Hamilton Bulldogs who will play tonight against Tampa Bay.
With new players potentially joining the line-up, this could be a good opportunity to sub Travis Moen off the first line. Despite having scored two goals in his last two contests, Moen is not, and should not be a long term solution to losing Max Pacioretty. The career bottom six forward has never shown an ability to score at a regular rate, so it’s unlikely that he will suddenly start. Perhaps Aaron Palushaj, currently his team’s leading scorer, could be given a shot to prove that the Habs made the right decision when they shipped Matt D’Agostini to St-Louis. Whoever is playing tonight, one thing is certain: if the Habs are to be successful, they will have to find a way to stop a red hot Steven Stamkos and a seemingly rejuvenated Vincent Lecavalier.
After suffering through a mid-season slump, Stamkos has regained the title as the league’s most dangerous offensive threat. The league’s leading goal scorer is currently on a five game point scoring streak, in which he has amassed eight points. Slowing down Stamkos will be key for the Habs, as he has has six points in the lightning’s first three meetings with the Bleu, Blanc,
et Rouge this season. He can score from virtually anywhere on the ice, and is capable of playing big minutes. He will surely test the legs of Roman Hamrlik, who will be playing in his 1300th career game.
Lecavalier meanwhile, seems to have recovered from his Scott Gomez-like start to the season. The former heir to Jean Beliveau’s throne has scored 19 points in his last 18 games, and has been a major reason for Tampa’s push for the Southeast division title. If Plekanec is indeed to miss tonight’s game, the Habs will have a lot of difficulty matching the Lightning’s one-two punch at center.
Another major key to success in tonight’s contest will be team discipline. Although the Habs have a fairly strong penalty kill, they have simply been taking too many minor penalties as of late. The Habs have taken 14 minor penalties in their last three games. If this trend continues, they will undoubtedly have trouble keeping the Bolts’ sixth ranked power play off the score sheet. The Habs will also need a much better performance from Mike Cammalleri. The team’s most dangerous forward has been anything but lately, scoring only one goal in his last seven games.
Puck drop is at 7:30.