Game Eight Preview: Thrashers Vs. Habs

Ken BeckettCorrespondent IOctober 20, 2009

MONTREAL- APRIL 22:  Jaroslav Halak #41 of the Montreal Canadiens stops the puck during the warm up period prior to facing the Boston Bruins in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre on April 22, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Bruins defeated the Canadiens 4-1 winning the series 4-0.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

After starting off the 2009-10 season with two victories, the Montreal Canadiens are now mired in a five game losing streak that has everybody frustrated. Especially the fans.

The Bell Centre faithful took to booing the Habs after their most recent loss, a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Alex Kovalev and the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.

This five game losing streak matches Montreal's longest losing streak from last season. The last time the Habs dropped six in a row was in the 2006-07 campaign.

Montreal will look to end this slump against the red hot Atlanta Thrashers tonight at the Bell Centre.

The Thrashers are 4-1-0 and have surprised everybody with some dynamite play from the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk, Rich Peverley, and rookie Evander Kane.

Kovalchuk is tied for second in the league with seven goals. And with eight points in five games, Kovalchuk is off to the best statistical start of his career. Which should surprise nobody considering that this is a contract year for the Russian sniper.

For the Canadiens meanwhile, they have struggled mightily on the power play, converting just 7 of 26 chances.

The Habs will get some power play help with the addition of recent free agent signing Marc-Andre Bergeron.

Bergeron posted 14 goals and 18 assists in 72 games for the Minnesota Wild last season.

Bergeron also led the Hamilton Bulldogs in points with six assists in just three games before being called up on Sunday. He is expected to play alongside Paul Mara on defence.

There will also be a change in goal tonight for the Canadiens.

Carey Price has started six out of seven games for the Habs this year, but Jaroslav Halak will get the start in net.

Price had a rough game Saturday night against the Sens, allowing three goals on just 21 shots. He is 2-4-0 on the year with a 3.36 goals-against average, and a disappointing .886 save percentage.

Jaroslav Halak has started only once this season, when he picked up a 4-3 loss on October 6th against the Calgary Flames. He also came in and replaced Carey Price during a horrendous 7-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on October 7th.

The Habs and Thrashers played four times last season with each team getting a pair of wins on home ice. Atlanta has struggled recently at the Bell Centre as they have lost three straight, five of six, and six of their last eight games in Montreal.

Montreal Canadiens Projected Lines

Cammalleri - Gomez - Gionta
Latendresse - Plekanec - Kostitsyn
Pacioretty - Lapierre - D'Agostini
Moen - Chipchura - Laraque

Hamrlik - Spacek
Gill - Gorges
Mara - Bergeron


Gregory Stewart (healthy)
Glen Metropolit (ribs)

Atlanta Thrashers Projected Lines

Kovalchuk - Antropov - Little
Kozlov - White - Afinogenov 
Kane - Peverley - Armstrong
Boulton - Reasoner - Thorburn

Bogosian - Enstrom
Kubina - Hainsey
Schubert - Popovic


Anssi Salmela (healthy)
Jim Slater (healthy)

Game Time: 7:30pm EDT on TSN, RDS