The Habs look to get into the win column on Tuesday night as they host the
visiting Florida Panthers. Both squads are coming off mediocre efforts,
Montreal having lost to Toronto on Saturday while Florida was walloped 4-0 at
the hands of the Senators yesterday. It appears that both teams will be
changing up their lineups for this game.
To the surprise of many, Lars Eller was skating on the ‘5th line’ alongside
Michael Blunden at Monday’s practice, suggesting that he could very well be
scratched tonight. Rookie Brendan Gallagher was practicing on the third
line and is likely to make his NHL debut. For the Panthers, Scott
Clemmensen is expected to get the start after former Hab Jose Theodore played against the
Senators on Monday, allowing 4 goals on 37 shots.
The injury bug has hit the Panthers early on this year. Kris Versteeg,
their third leading point getter from 2011-12, was placed on Injured Reserve
yesterday while the team is also missing defenceman Erik Gudbranson plus
forwards Marcel Goc and Sean Bergenheim. Drew Shore was recalled prior to
the Ottawa game and will be available for tonight’s contest. If he does
play, it will be the 21 year olds’ NHL debut. For the Habs, Petteri
Nokelainen remains out with a back injury sustained prior to the beginning of
the lockout while Aaron Palushaj is on SOIR with a shoulder injury. He is expected to miss around one more week.
The Habs struggled against Florida last season losing all four games for the
first time in franchise history. Prior to that, Montreal had won 11 of the
prior 14 matchups. However, three of the games were one-goal contests
including one decided in a shootout. Erik Cole has had some recent success
against the Panthers; in the past two seasons, he has collected points in 10
straight games (7 goals and 5 assists).
Weiss – Upshall
Huberdeau – Mueller – Kovalev
Kopecky – Matthias – Santorelli
Parros – Smithson – Skille
Desharnais – Cole
Bourque – Plekanec – Gionta
Prust – Galchenyuk – Gallagher
Moen – White – Armstrong
1) Special Teams: The powerplay on Saturday night was nothing short of
abysmal. Sustained pressure was rarely there while gaining the zone was
also a frequent challenge. The penalty kill was better but both of
Toronto’s goals came in the slot area, something they will need to rectify.
2) Keep the Crowd Excited: It didn’t take long for the crowd to be
largely neutralized against Toronto. Early penalties quashed any
enthusiasm from the pre-game ceremonies and it took far too long to get the fans
excited after. An early goal, a big hit, anything like that to get the
fans into the game would be a big bonus for the Habs.
3) Top Six Success: The top two lines sputtered through a lot of the
Toronto game, something that simply cannot happen if the Habs hope to have a
chance to win most nights. Whether it’s 5-on-5 play or on the powerplay,
they need to be better in this one.
Puck drop is at 7:30 PM EST and can be seen on RDS.