Continuing the streak? The Canadiens will try to continue their winning ways
on Tuesday night as they take on Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and the rest of the 12-3-1 Penguins at the Bell Centre. As the first game in a four games in six nights stretch, a win would get Les Habitants off to a solid start in
a sequence where they are facing the Penguins and St. Louis Blues at home before
a pair of weekend games against the Bruins (Saturday) and Rangers (Sunday). A
dominant win would do much to quiet the nay-sayers who claim Montreal’s hot start is more due to luck than skill.
Les Canadiens are coming off a 4-1 win against Detroit, which saw Dustin Tokarski unlucky not to record a shutout. While not the most exciting game of the season, it featured timely goals by
Brandon Prust and P.K. Subban and showed that Montreal could match Detroit in what was for the most part a tight checking, grinding game.
Pittsburgh is also on a roll, having won nine of their last ten. On Saturday, they edged the Rangers 3-2 in a bizarre shootout
win which saw Dan Boyle of the Rangers apparently score the winner before it was overturned on review and ruled no goal due to a double tap. Brandon Sutter scored the winner as Rick Nash was stopped on the Rangers’ final attempt.
Sidney Crosby is near his usual place at the top of the scoring race in the NHL, but at the moment he is one point behind the surprising Jakub Voracek
with 7 goals and 18 assists for 25 points while Patric Hornqvist 9-10-19 (13th place) and
Evgeni Malkin 7-12-19 (14th place) lead the high scoring Penguins.
Leading the Canadiens’ scoring by committee are Max Pacioretty at 8-8-16 (27th in league scoring), Tomas Plekanec at 7-8-15, and Alex Galchenyuk with 5-8-13.
Key questions for this game:
1. Can Montreal start strong? Against Detroit they managed to get out of the first period with a zero-zero tie, and scored first, but leads, especially first period
ones, are still rare for this year’s Canadiens.
2. Will the team be able to play a tight defensive game against the high-flying Penguins?
3. Which powerplay will show up for the Habs? Will they be the sharp-passing dangerous unit that burned Philadelphia or the
lacklustre, confused group that failed to score against Detroit?
4. Will Montreal be able to maintain their torrid scoring pace?
5. Will this be the game that Manny Malhotra, Nathan Beaulieu, or Sergei Gonchar score their first goal in a Canadiens’ uniform?
6. Will Therrien continue the 7 defencemen experiment? If so, can this configuration sustain its success?
Given the lack of time off and Therrien’s propensity for sticking with a winning lineup, it seems highly likely that the lineup
will remain the same as the one which faced Detroit. Although I fully understand
Michel Therrien’s unwillingness to tinker with a winning group, I would like to see Gonchar’s weary legs given a rest and
Drayson Bowman slotted in.
Fearless prediction: The Habs find a way to win a close one as Price outduels Fleury
and the defence stymies Crosby and Malkin.
Habs Expected Lineup
Max Pacioretty – David Desharnais – Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
Alex Galchenyuk – Tomas Plekanec – Brendan Gallagher
Brandon Prust – Lars Eller – Jiri Sekac
Nathan Beaulieu – Manny Malhotra – Dale Weise
Andrei Markov – P.K. Subban
Alexei Emelin – Mike Weaver
Sergei Gonchar – Tom Gilbert
Injuries: Michael Bournival
Scratches: Drayson Bowman
Pittsburgh Penguins Expected Lineup
Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Blake Comeau
Spaling – Evgeni Malkin – Patric Hornqvist
Bennett – Brandon Sutter – Steve Downie
Sill – Marcel Goc – Craig Adams
Paul Martin – Kris Letang
Christian Ehrhoff – Robert Bortuzzo
Rob Scuderi – Simon Despres
Injuries: Pascal Dupuis, Olli Maatta (game-time decision)