Montreal - After dropping what could have been an easy two points game to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Head coach Jacques Martin and his troops are looking at getting back to the psychological .500 barrier.
But the Canadiens know they will have to give everything they've got to accomplish that. So far the team has a 8-7-0-0 record. 7 of those games have been jotted down in the "W" column either in overtime or in a shootout. The last win within sixty minutes of play was on October 22nd against the poor New York Islanders and won the game 5-1 to enable Montreal's fans to get eight free chicken wings at La Cage Aux Sports the next day.
It won't be an easy task coming in to tonight's game against the Flames. First thing to consider is that Western conference teams are extremely physical. The flames are up to a great start with a record of 10-4-1 in fifteen match ups. They will face NHL's first star of the week Jarom Iginla who had a slow start but has regained his game in the passed week. Another flame to keep an eye on is René Bourque who leads the team in points with six goals and 11 assists.
RDS.CA announced that net minder Jaroslav Halak got the nod for the game. It seemed clear that Matthieu Carl would take Marc-André Bergeron at the blue line but The Team 990 radio station confirmed that Carl is out and Bergeron is in. Not sure about that call from Martin as although Bergeron can bring something at the point on the power play but he is struggling in his own zone when the opposing team apply pressure on him. Carl is a good kid and a good player who will give you everything he's got in the tank.
New comer Jay Leach, acquired on waivers last friday from the New Jersey Devils will make his debut as a Habs. The 6-foot-5, 225 pounders will surely bring some much needed weight at the blue line.
On the flames' side, Miikka Kiprusoff will hold the net. He has 9-3 record with a goal against average of 2.47 and .912 save percentage. Kiprusoff only allowed six goals once this year. It was on October 12 when the flames lost 6-5 in OT against Chicago. He never allowed more than three goals since. He only allowed one goal in his last two starts.
Meanwhile, Guillaume Latendresse and Maxime Lapierre are not Jacques Martin's favorite players at this point. The two Quebecers were stapled to the bench for most of the third period Saturday against Tampa Bay.
In Lapierre's case, everything started when Martin defended him in front of the media about the fact that he (Lapierre) did not drop the gloves in front of Bruins' Andrew Ference. He was highly criticized by hockey analyst Pierre McGuire. Lapierre thanked his coach by not "showing up" against Tampa.
Latendresse keeps repeating since the start of the season that he knows what Martin expects from him: Play physical and get around the net... Something he failed to do so far.
The moral is not so high and a loss tonight will bring that moral even lower.
1- A. Kostitsyn - Gomez - Gionta
2. Cammalleri - Plekanec - Lapierre
3. Pacioretty - Metropolit - Moen
4. Latendresse - Pyatt - White
1- Hamrlik - Spacek
2- 2Mara - Gorges
3- Leach - Bergeron
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