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Colorado at Montreal – October 15th, 2009 – 7:30 EST.

You can bet the Canadiens are happy to be coming home after 5 consecutive games
on the road to start the season. After stealing the first two games against
divisional opponents, the Habs lost steam and the subsequent three games in
Western Canada.  They return home having lost Andrei Markov, Ryan O’Byrne and
possibly Glen Metropolit to injuries. 

The Canadiens (2-3) host the Colorado Avalanche (4-1-1) who are in the midst of
a 7-game road trip and currently sit atop the Western Conference.  The two met
just once last year in Denver, with the Canadiens escaping with a 4-2 victory
despite being outshot 48-23.  Jaroslav Halak shone in net, but it is likely
Carey Price that will see the start for the Canadiens’ home opener.  Price has
performed better this year so far, with his poorer performances coinciding with
shoddy efforts put forth by his teammates.  His record is 2-2-0 with a 3.53 GAA
and a .894 SV%, and will face either Craig Anderson (1.98 GAA, .940 SV%) or
Peter Budaj (0-0) at the opposing end of the ice.

Tomas Plekanec, Mike Cammalleri and Paul Mara all lead the Canadien scorers with
4 points each.  Brian Gionta leads the Habs in goals scored with 3 in 5 games. 
Look for the first line of Scott Gomez, Gionta and Cammalleri to be more
effective with the last change at home, but if the Canadiens are going to be a
competitive team, they are going to need better contributions from their 2nd
line.  Andrei Kostitsyn had been mostly invisible thus far, and was benched for
half of the game after an egregious turnover led to the ultimate winning goal
for Edmonton last Saturday.  Coach Jacques Martin has experimented with Max
Pacioretty, Matt D’Agostini, Travis Moen and Guillaume Latendresse on Plekanec’s
wing, but none have proven themselves worthy for a spot thus far.  More shakeups
may be in order, as Martin had Moen skating on the top line in Cammalleri’s
stead during the latest practice.

Montreal’s defense may receive a boost after signing Marc Andre Bergeron last
week.  The defense has struggled at large, seeking to find consistencies in
pairings and implementing Martin’s system.  A few more practices will surely
benefit the defense, but don’t be too surprised to hear a few boo-birds target
Hal Gill come Thursday.  Unfortunately, Bergeron is unlikely to be in NHL-shape
by Thursday, so look for newly-recalled Shawn Belle to suit up in lieu of the
demoted Yannick Weber.

To better their chances of winning, the Habs will look to improve upon their
special teams.  They have an 18.8% success rate on the powerplay, and have an
abysmal 63.2% penalty killing record thus far.  Conversely, Avalanche are
running a 38.5% PP and an 87.5% PK rate.  Furthermore, Montreal has only drawn 6
minor penalties in the last 3 games, which begs the question if the Habs are
working hard enough in the offensive zone to force powerplay situations. 

This game kicks off a 6-game homestead for Montreal; game time is 7:30 EST.  The
game is shown on RDS (HD) and ALT (HD).

This article was written by Matt