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New Jersey Devils (43-25-5)
at Montreal Canadiens (37-30-8)

With only 7 games remaining in the regular
season, the Montreal Canadiens continue their push for the postseason as they
host the New Jersey Devils.  The two teams have met 3 times already this
season, and the Habs have gone 1-1-1 thus far.  The Canadiens won the last
game, 3-1, for an all too rare victory in New Jersey.  Montreal currently
sits 6th in the Eastern Conference while the Devils are ranked 2nd, as well as
1st in the Atlantic Division.  Despite losing 3 of their last 4 games,
two of those losses were in shootouts, and the Canadiens remain a strong 7-1-2
over their last 10 games.  The Devils are 5-3-2 over the same span, and are
coming off a shootout loss to the New York Rangers.

Jaroslav Halak (24-11-3, 2.41 GAA, .924 SV%)
was phenomenal on Thursday night, and will get the start tonight, although
Carey Price (13-19-5, 2.79 GAA, .912 SV%) has been playing his best hockey of
late.  It goes without saying that perennial Vezina-candidate and
workhorse, Martin Brodeur (40-23-4, 2.34 GAA, .914), will see a start in his
native province.  Brodeur possesses god-like numbers versus the bleu,
blanc et rouge
, boasting a 37-16-5 all-time record, with a miniscule 1.78
GAA and .932 save percentage.  Halak posted his only win against the Devils
on January 22nd, 2010, and is a life-time 1-2-1 against the Devils, with a 2.43
GAA and .931 save percentage. 

Fresh off scoring his 100th career goal, Tomas Plekanec (22G,
45A) remains the Canadiens’ top scorer, and has recorded points in consecutive
games since the return of his linemate, Mike Cammalleri (26G, 22A). 
Cammalleri’s return has eased some pressure off the trio of Scott Gomez (12G,
42A), Brian Gionta (25G, 16A) and Benoit Pouliot (17G, 10A) and as a result, the
three have played some inspired hockey of late.  The Canadiens will have to
contend with some elite snipers from the Devils, as they face Zach Parise (35G,
38A), Ilya Kovalchuk (38G, 37A), Travis Zajac (23G, 38A), Jamie Langenbrunner
(17G, 42A) and Patrik Elias (14G, 27A).

It should come as no surprise that the Devils
fare better than Montreal statistically, as they routinely outscore (2.63 goals
vs. 2.60 goals) and out-defend (2.36 GAA vs. 2.67 GAA) the Habs.  In fact,
the Devils possess the best defensive numbers in the league.  Nevertheless,
when it comes to special teams, it is Montreal that bears the advantage, as
their powerplay (22.7% vs 18.2%) and penalty-killing (83.2% vs. 82.4%) are
superior to those of the Devils.  It is important to note that the Montreal
powerplay is much less effective at home, converting a mere 17.6% of the time
with the man advantage.  Montreal has gone 1 for 7 this season-series while
the Devils have failed on all 11 powerplay opportunities.  Travis Moen scored
the lone short-handed goal this year.

Despite Plekanec and Cammalleri opting out of
yesterday’s practice for therapy days, it is expected that the Canadiens will
ice an almost-full complement of players.  They will only be missing Paul
Mara, who is expected to miss the remainder of the regular season after
undergoing shoulder surgery.  The Devils are 100% at this point in the

The game can be seen on RDS, CBC and NHL
Network (US). 
Game time is 7:00pm EST.

This preview was written by Matt