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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 44 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
The Habs will look to get back into the winning column on Wednesday as they host rival Boston, the leaders of the Northeast Division. Montreal will have a 'new' face in the lineup for this one as Ryan White will make his season debut after playing in four games with AHL Hamilton last week. It's unknown as of yet who he will be replacing in the lineup but the previous two Montreal practices may be an indication.
On Tuesday, Scott Gomez was front and centre after having some lengthy discussions with assistant coach Randy Ladouceur. Wednesday, it was Andrei Kostitsyn who stole the limelight suggesting that he's not happy and may want out in the near future. As both played sparingly on Monday against Carolina, they are the leading candidates to be watching from the press box tonight. Dressing the more conventional lineup of twelve forwards and six defencemen is also an option. Joining whoever comes out will be Travis Moen, Yannick Weber, and Petteri Nokelainen. Moen is now out indefinitely after suffering a setback from his earlier injury while the other two are skating but not yet ready to return.
The Habs come into this contest playing better hockey than the Bruins in recent games. In their last 10, Montreal has a 6-4 record while Boston is just 4-5-1, one of those losses coming last night to the New York Rangers. With a win, the Canadiens could have a chance at pulling within just five points of the final playoff spot in the East depending on how 8th place Toronto fares in Edmonton.
The potential lines are as follows (assuming the Habs sit a defenceman):
1) Special Teams - Montreal's powerplay has been surprisingly good as of late as they vaulted all the way up to 28th in the league. (Okay, it's not a huge jump but it's progress.) Despite coughing up a pair of goals while on the penalty kill against the Hurricanes, the Habs still lead in that department. Keeping up the hot streak on the PP and strengthening the PK will be critical.
2) Use the crowd - With the rivalry being what it is and the outside shot at the playoffs being still in sight, the atmosphere at the Bell Centre should be electric. That could be the early lift that gets the Habs going.
3) Carey Price - Although his win-loss record against the B's isn't the greatest, his GAA and SV% are at 1.82 and .934 respectively. Boston allows fewer goals on the road than they do at home so Price will need to be at his best as this very well would be a low scoring game.
Puck drop is at 7:30 PM EST and can be seen on TSN, RDS, and NBC Sports in the US.
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