Montreal’s home-opener gets underway tonight as they play host to the Calgary
Flames. The two teams met twice last season, with both teams earning
victories on their home ice. The most recent matchup ended poorly for the
Canadiens, as they were shut out 4-0 playing outdoors in the Heritage Classic.
The list of the Canadiens’ injured grows, and tonight they will be without the services of
Andrei Markov, Mike Cammalleri, Chris Campoli, Jaroslav Spacek and Ryan White. The good news is that Lars Eller will be back in the line-up after an off-season shoulder surgery, and will be looking to build off of
an impressive post-season performance. Called up from Hamilton on Monday,
Aaron Palushaj will see his first regular NHL game this season. The Flames
are presently weak down the middle with two of their top pivots, Mikael Backlund
and Brendan Morrison, sidelined with injury.
The projected lines for this contest are:
|Moen – Plekanec
Pacioretty – Gomez – Gionta
Darche – Desharnais – Kostitsyn
Engqvist – Eller – Palushaj
Gill – Subban
|Tanguay – Moss
Glencross – Jokinen – Stempniak
Hagman – Horak – Bourque
Kostopolous – Stajan – Jackman
Butler – Bouwmeester
HW’s Keys to Victory
1) Feed off the crowd: The Bell Centre crowd can be electrifying a
great deal of the time, and we should expect nothing less for a home-opener.
The Habs need to use that extra energy and get a quick start to further
demoralize their opponents. The flipside to this is that the rookies and
youngsters will have to be careful to keep their emotions in check.
2) Shut down Iginla: Calgary’s captain has always led by example, and
he poses a threat every time he’s on the ice. His goal against St. Louis
on Monday tied him with Brian Bellows for 45th on the all-time scoring list
(484), and he would surely like to be the sole possessor in that category.
With the last change, Jacques Martin will have better luck getting his defensive
matchups against Calgary’s top line, and Iggy will likely get a healthy dose of
Montreal’s top defenders.
3) Get scoring from the top guns: Erik Cole is pointless through
Montreal’s first 2 games, and many seem disappointed by his performance thus
far. That being said, Cole has previously stated how the motivated the
Bell Centre had made him in the past, and hopefully this will prove to be a
positive factor tonight. Cole isn’t alone in this underachieving category,
as Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez and Andrei Kostitsyn still haven’t hit the
scoresheet this season. More contributions from this point-less crew will go a
long way towards a Montreal victory.
4) Keep things simple on D: As evidenced by the 4-0 defeat, Calgary
can play a strong North-South game and wreak havoc on Montreal’s smaller
players. With the glut of injuries, Montreal’s blue-line is weaker than
ever, and it will be a trying experience for Raphael Diaz, Alexei Emelin and
Yannick Weber. Montreal’s forwards will have to provide extra support in
the defensive zone and the team as a whole team will need to focus on quick
passing and utilize their speed to clear the zone. Simple plays will aid
5) Stay out of the Box: Montreal has historically struggled with big,
physical teams, and are often forced to take penalties as a result.
Montreal’s PK has been perfect so far, but it would be foolish to put this to
the test, especially with some of Calgary’s skilled players. Moreover, one
has to hope that the club’s new tendency to bless the opposition with lengthy
5-on-3s will end tonight.
The puck drops at 7:30 PM EST and can be seen on TSN (regional) and RDS.