The Nashville Predators fly into Montreal winless in their pass four games, something that certainly isn’t sitting pretty alongside the sugar plum fairies dancing in their minds. Tomas Vokoun, the Preds netminder who began his promising career with the CH, will return to Montreal looking to pour sweet revenge all over the Habs turkey. Les Canadiens will counter with Jose Theodore, and after going unbeaten in their last two games, will be looking to keep their holiday spirit flowing.
It’s the first meeting of the season between the two teams, but it’s surely one that a pair of Habs have had circled on their calendar for a very long time. Chad Kilger, the Habs’ often nonexistant, yet sometimes forceful fourth liner, has had remarkable success against Nashville. His 10 points in 11 career game’s against Barry Trotz’s team place him second in terms of production on the team when Nashville comes to play. Now would be a perfect time to start something special, Chad. Big Kilger has failed to record a point in nine straight games. The man in front of him, is none other than Donald Audette. Audette, who’s roster spot is tingling with fear due to the upcoming return of Jason Ward, has 13 points (5-8) in 10 contests against the Predators.
Speaking of Ward, the big winger played his first game of his mini-conditioning stint with the Hamilton Bulldogs, registering an assist and a fighting major, before leaving the game early with a misconduct. The Bulldogs next play on Friday against the Rochester Americans. Ward will play his second AHlL game then, before he most likely returns to the Habs in time to face the hated Leafs in a traditional, Saturday night matchup.
In the same boat as Tomas Vokoun, but to a much lesser extent, Francis Bouillon will be sniffing for some a chance to showup the Preds. After being plucked off of waivers by Nashville from Montreal two seasons ago, Bouillon is showing that he can play a regular shift, or at least Claude Julien seems to think so. Despite his defensive lapses and sometimes poor descision making on the ice, the 5’8 mini-tank Bouillon has won over small groups of fans with his willingness to hit, and hit hard. Despite never playing a game for Nashville, Bouillon is averaging a respectable 18:22 of icetime a game. In three games against the Preds, ‘Frankie Bu-bu’ has been able to record a pair of assists.
Captain Saku Koivu will look to bounce back after a sub-par game in Boston on Tuesday. Regardless, Koivu remains head and shoulders above every one of his teammates in terms of talent and heart. The always fiery Koivu has 13 points in 19 games this season, strong output considering he missed such a large amount of Traning Camp, as well as a good portion of the first quarter of the season. Sheldon Souray has also put up four points in his last three matches, his 16 points on the year sit him in a tie for third in the team’s points race. Souray’s physical prescence, booming shot, and heads up play have earned him the praise of many, and in the minds of many, a chance to represent his team at the All Star game. Souray never takes a night off, but his workload may be lessened tonight with the possibility of Nashville’s Scott Hartnell sitting out the game due to an injury to his right ankle.
It should be a hard fought game tonight (7:30, RDS, CJAD-800) as neither team sits more than two games above the cherished .500 mark. Strong, spirited play and a timely goal or two should be the keys to the game for the Habs. If Montreal can get to Vokoun early, than their chances of gaining a pair of points should be greatly improved. Vokoun may have struck a bit of luck, and the same goes for the Habs possibly, as Yanic Perreault is doubtful for tonight’s game. The centreman has a bad groin. While his feared wrist shot can make any goalie screech, his oft-uninspired play usually leaves people with the impression that he’s not too interested in playing the game. If Perreault is not ready to go, Pierre Dagenais should make an appearance on the fourth line with Chad Kilger and Darren Langdon. Perhaps Dagenais, who also carries an exceptional shot, would be a better fit on the team’s second scoring line, but Claude Julien still holds faith for Audette. “He is an experienced player who can contribute a good share to us if he finds his touch around the opposition’s net,” said Julien. Steve Begin and Patrice Brisebois will remain sidelined with their respective injuries.