Coming off a convincing 4-0 trouncing of the Carolina Hurricanes, the Montreal Canadiens will look to obtain at least a point in their fifth straight contest tonight as they faceoff against the New York Islanders in Long Island.
On the other hand, the Islanders have struggled mightily of late and lost their fourth consecutive contest on Tuesday, falling 4-2 to the cross-town Rangers
In fact, both squads are on opposite ends of the momentum spectrum.
Montreal’s early struggles have been well documented. However, since snapping their four-game losing streak in late October, the Canadiens have compiled a 6-2-1 record.
Conversely, the Islanders year started in promising fashion, winning three of their first four contests. Unfortunately for the Long Island faithful, that promise quickly vanished and now the team again finds itself firmly ensconced in the Conference basement.
Playing in back-to-back contests, Peter Budaj is slated to get his third start of the season. He split his previous two decisions and has produced a sterling .947 save percentage in the process.
Meanwhile, the Islanders continue their three-goalie circus and much maligned Evegni Nabokov will get the nod in goal for them. Although he has won only one of his seven games, the Kazakh backstop has maintained a respectable .910 save percentage.
John Tavares leads his squad with 15 points in as many games and Hull native PA Parenteau is close behind with 13 points. Kyle Okposo, who has struggled mightily this season, and Mark Eaton are slated to be a healthy scratches tonight. Nino Niederreiter, who has recovered from an early groin injury, will draw in for the Islanders.
With former Canadien Mark Streit, Nino Niederreiter, Raphael Diaz and Yannick Weber all in the lineup, tonight will mark the first time four Swiss-born players will participate in the same NHL contest.
Hal Gill, Jarsoslav Spacek, Andreas Engqvist and Andrei Kostitsyn, who were absent last night versus the Canes, are again expected to be on the sidelines. They will join Ryan White, Chris Campoli and Andrei Markov in the press box.
HW’s Victory Keys
Eliminate their will to win: The Islanders are a fragile team. Scoring rapidly and taking an early hold on the game would allow the Canadiens to severely impair the Isles’ already brittle confidence.
Simplicity Montreal’s young blueline had an excellent showing against a struggling Canes’ squad last night. However, the confidence gained from that performance must not make them overzealous. Proper positioning, blocked shots and simple plays should contain an offense that thins considerably after John Tavares.
Shoot The Islanders, like the Hurricanes last night, allow a fairly high amount of shots and the Canadiens should look to exploit that to their advantage. Shooting from various angles and driving the net should work wonders against one of league’s poorer defences. The Isles allow over three goals per game and the squad does not have a ‘plus’ player in its line-up. Clearly, there is no need to re-invent the wheel here.
Puck drop is at 7:00 PM. The game will air on RDS and MSG Plus.