The Montreal Canadiens are in Raleigh to play the Carolina Hurricanes, hoping to get the point that will secure them a spot in the playoffs. A win tonight (or a loss in overtime) would put the Habs out of the reach of the Rangers who currently sit at 9th. But most of all, a point tonight would be a huge pressure relief. The Habs don’t want to gamble their playoffs participation against the Leafs on Saturday. On April 7, 2007, a 6-5 loss in Toronto in the final game of the regular season prevented the Canadiens from making the playoffs. A must-win situation on Saturday would also force Habs Coach Jacques Martin to overuse his best players, thus exposing them to fatigue and injuries. And we all know that if the Habs need the win and raise the tempo, the Leafs will try to bruise the Habs and play like it’s their championship game. The Canes are a better team, but they don’t represent the bruising threat that the Leafs are. Thus why earning a point tonight is of the utmost importance.
A little more than a week ago, Cam Ward excelled against a bombardment of shots to lead the Hurricanes to a 2-1 win in Montreal. The Hurricanes are miles away from making the playoffs, yet… only 5 wins separate them from the Habs. Needless to say that if Cam Ward hadn’t been injured, the Hurricanes would have had those 5 wins. This shows that having 2 great goalies is definitely a plus. If we didn’t have Jaroslav Halak when Carey Price struggled, we would currently be challenging the Leafs for the last place in the standings.
“Most complete” lineup
Jaroslav Spacek is reintegrating what seems to be the “most complete” lineup of the season tonight. Spacek missed 3 games because of the flu. Bergeron will play forward and Mathieu Darche will be the odd-man out. Lapierre, Sergei and Moore have been playing well lately and it shows with 2 points each in the last 2 games. The big guns need to get their scoring touch back in time for the playoffs: Benoit Pouliot (1 goal in 12 games), Mike Cammalleri (10 games drought), Scott Gomez (12 games drought) all have to get going offensively! Halak will be starting his 4th consecutive game.
The game can be seen on RDS and TSN. The puck drops at 7:35pm EST.