They’ve lost two games in a row. Their two top snipers have a combined one goal in their past nine games, and the man who’s made everything come together on the backend is now facing a knee injury. Things are rough at the moment, sure, but there are more important issues for the Habs at this point in time. Nevermind dwelling on a couple of rough outings, our boys need to be ready to use every ounce of their tiny frames tonight against the Senators.
It will be a new look team tonight for the Habs, as ‘wannabe sniper 1A and wannabe sniper 1B’, formally known as Yanic Perreault and Pierre Dagenais, will find themselves in the stands. This is a move I stand strongly behind, but the only question is where their replacements, the oft-snoozing, potentially bruising Chad Kilger and always reliable Andreas Dackell, will play.
With Dagenais out of the formation, the most likely scenario would see Jason Ward fill the hole created by the 6’5 winger’s abscence from the second line. Ward provides a whole lot of sandpaper and is a bundle of nails, something that Richard Zednik (who tends to thrive with energetic players) and Mike Ribeiro should only benefit from. If Ward slides into the spot as expected, than his third line position would most likely be filled by Dackell.
As much as you can count on the defensive-minded Swede to throw out a ton of effort on the ice, he would leave the Habs’ third line to be much smaller, but more importantly softer. While there’s no doubting Dackell could not fill the role of third line winger tonight (and, perhaps he’d thrive playing against his former team in the Sens), if there is any thing floating around between Chad Kilger’s ears, his recent benching may give him enough to work for, in order to work his way up the lines tonight.
In the case of Perreault, it appears his line is very fine, or in other words, he’s on his last legs in Montreal. Despite having 18 career goals in 29 games against Ottawa, Claude Julien still fealt the obvious need to bench the man they once called ‘No Panic Yanic’, but how can you blame him? Let’s face it, the Habs are not the most talented team in the league, so if every skater on the ice isn’t giving it his all, we’re in for more than a little bit of trouble. In the case of Claude Julien and his staff, this is something they have obviously recognized, as it’s made clear by tonight’s sitting of the poster boys for laziness and poor skating.
While the offence is always abundant and ready to EXPLODE in Ottawa, opposing goaltenders, such as Theo, who will start tonight barring a major disaster or something completely crazy happening, need to be on the top of their game when so many Senator forwards are hot. Todd White, Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, Martin Havlat, Josh Langfield, and Marian Hossa have all put up a point-a-game in their past few games.
At 20-years-old, Spezza is a lock for Canada’s World Cup team next Fall, and while suiting up alonside the likes of Hossa, Alfredsson, Havlat, and Wade Redden is pretty awesome, his 40 points and +15 rating are definitely something for him to be proud of. On the topic of the World Cup, Alfredsson will again star for what should be an excellent Swedish team, but there can’t be a whole lot of games he enjoys more than those against the Habs. 31 assists in 39 games, to go along with 14 goals, give Alfie 45 career points against the Habs. The assignment of checking the Sens captain’s line will likely fall to Juneau. Let’s hope his back is doing alright, because he’s going to need to throw out everything he’s got in order to stop those guys.
And at last, game time is 7:00. It’s a special game for most Habs fans across the country tonight, as our Leaf-loving buddies at the CBC (ya right!) have been kind enough to broadcast tonight’s game across the country, except for viewers in Toronto (minus Ottawa) and Newfoundland. It is a little odd that Ryder’s hometown crowd will be denied the oppurtunity to see him play, but the nonetheless, the game will be on SRC and RDS as always.
Enjoy the game, and Go Habs.
Projected Lineup (edited : As reported by RDS)
Bulis – Koivu – Ryder
Sundstrom – Ribeiro – Zednik
Kilger – Juneau – Ward
Langdon – Begin – Dackell
Markov – Quintal
Rivet – Komisarek
Bouillon – Brisebois
Scratches : Souray (knee), Perreault (healthy), Dagenais (healthy)