The Montreal Canadiens will be at home to face the Florida Panthers tonight. The Habs are looking for both their first win and first home win in 2010, as they are off to a cold start for January with an 0-2-0 record to date. The team’s last win came at the expense of Florida, a 5-4 victory on New Year’s eve of 2009; Jaroslav Halak got the win in that game.
The Canadiens’ power play, currently ranked #1 overall in the NHL, will be a key factor in tonight’s game. The Panthers penalty killing is ranked 24th overall, but the team appears to kill penalties better on the road, given their #12 ranking. Curiously, the Habs power play is only ranked 24th at home, but #1 on the road and overall. Perhaps the players put too much pressure on themselves in front of their fans to score with the man advantage.
The current lineup will be void of both Kostitsyn brothers, who are listed as day-to-day on the injury list, along with defenceman Ryan O’Byrne. Sergei is rehabbing an ankle injury, while Andre has a knee injury. The omission of Andre has given youngsters such as Benoit Pouillot and Max Pacioretty some opportunities to play on the top two lines. Benoit has fit in very well on the wing with Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta, scoring 2 goals in the last 3 games. Pacoretty has been sloted mostly with Tomas Plekanec and Mike Cammalleri, but has contributed only 1 assist in the last 3 games. Defenceman Marc-Andre Bergeron has shown some versatility recently, playing forward for several shifts in the past 4 games.
The game gets underway at 7:30pm EST and can been seen on RDS.