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Preview: Dallas (19-16-11)
at Montreal
(22-21-4) –January 14th, 2010

The Montreal Canadiens resume
action tonight, hosting the Dallas Stars at the Bell Centre.  The two teams
play each other only once this year, and only met once last season, with the
Canadiens winning 3-1 in Dallas.  Montreal hasn’t played since a 2-1
overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday, whereas Dallas is fresh off
a 6-3 loss to Philadelphia this past Tuesday.  The Stars are mired in a
road-funk, having lost their last 8 games on the road, and the past 2 on this
current road trip.  They are 4-6-0 in their last 10 games while Montreal
has been 6-3-1 over the same span. 

Carey Price (10-15-3, 2.67 GAA, .915 SV%)
hasn’t played since January 5th, but will reportedly start tonight. 
Although he performed miraculously last Saturday, Jaroslav Halak (12-6-1, 2.46
GAA, .927 SV%) has yet to start a game after a loss. Typically, Marty Turco
(14-12-8, 2.77 GAA, .907 SV%) gets the start over Alex Auld (5-4-3, 3.03 GAA,
.897 SV%), despite having lost 4 of his last 5 starts.

Although he hasn’t recorded a
point in the last 4 games, Tomas Plekanec still leads all Canadiens in scoring
with 46 points (10G, 36A) in 47 games, good for 17th league-wide.  Plekanec
is followed in scoring by his equally snake-bit linemate, Mike Cammalleri (20G,
17A) and Scott Gomez (6G, 24A), who has been on fire lately (12 points in the
last 9 games).  The Stars are led by Brad Richards (13G, 39A), who ranks
8th in the NHL for scoring.  Loui Erikkson (18G, 26A), James Neal (19G,
16A) and Mike Ribeiro (10G, 23A) round out the scoring for Dallas, although
Ribeiro is currently sidelined after being high-sticked in the throat by
ex-teammate, Chris Higgins.

The Canadiens remain the lowest scoring team
in the NHL (2.45
goals per game), which is a stark contrast to the Stars (2.80, 11th in the NHL). 
The flipside is that the roles are reversed on defense, as the Canadiens (2.64
GAA, 11th) fare much better than Dallas (3.04, 24th) at keeping the puck out of
their own net.  In spite of that somewhat flattering statistic, the Habs
still allow an average of 32.8 shots on net per game (28th) to Dallas’ 30.3
shots allowed (18th).

Despite being afforded the
least amount of powerplay opportunities in the league, Montreal is ranked 1st
with a conversion rate of 24.6%.  However, their play with the man
advantage is significantly less potent at home (16.4%).  The Stars fall in
mid-pack, with a rate of 18.4% (15th) with the man advantage.  Montreal
fares well short-handed (84.3% efficiency, 7th in the NHL), especially when
compared to the Stars (77.6%, 26th).

Montreal will be missing some
firepower up front, as both Andrei Kostitsyn (knee) and Sergei Kostitsyn (ankle)
have been out since December 31st.  Georges Laraque (upper body) and Ryan
O’Byrne (personal matters) should draw back into the lineup after missing some
time.  The Stars will be without the services of Mike Ribeiro (throat
surgery), Nicklas Grossman (lower body) and Krys Barch (flu).

The game gets underway at
7:30pm EST and can been seen on RDS and FS-SW.

This preview was written by Matt