UPDATE - 1:58 PM: Habs Inside/Out is reporting that Jacques Martin expects Jeff Halpern to play tonight but said it will be a game time decision. Also, the Canadiens have recalled Yannick Weber from the Hamilton Bulldogs.
The Montreal Canadiens—fresh off a four-game winning streak that saw them defeat the Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers—will welcome two former teammates back to town tonight: Sergei Kostitsyn and Francis Bouillon.
Bouillon is a player who fans adored while he was wearing the bleu, blanc and rouge, but Kostitsyn is a player who seemed to polarize the fanbase in Montreal.
Loved for his incredible skill set and hated for his lack of heart, Kostitsyn burned a trail of ego, narcissism and childish behaviour that would rival any Hollywood diva.
Traded out of town this past summer for the rights to Dustin Boyd and Dan Ellis, Kostitsyn makes his first appearance in Montreal since the trade.
The Team 990's Shaun Starr reported on Twitter that:
"I asked coach Trotz on Sergei K's practice & off-ice habits. "We'd like to see more, but, he's been playing with a broken toe for a month"
Not exactly a glowing review of the younger Kostitsyn's play but, as the neckless coach indicated, Sergei has an injury that is affecting his play.
The Canadiens are on a four-game winning streak—they are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games—that has seen them outscore the opposition 15-3 and maintain their position atop the Northeast Division standings.
The Preds, on the other hand, have had their share of issues lately—they are 4-6-0 in their last 10 games—and have only two wins over their last eight games. Most recently, the Preds held a 3-0 lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs before collapsing and losing the game 5-4.
Needless to say, things are not very rosy in Nashville these days.
If the Bruins, Canucks and Flyers presented a challenge from some of the top teams in the league, the Preds present a different kind of challenge for the Habs.
The Canadiens have followed the unfortunate trend of playing up or down to their competition over recent season, and if they want to join the ranks of the upper echelon teams in the NHL, they absolutely must win against teams like the Predators.
As such, it will be interesting to see how they respond tonight. Will they put the pedal to the metal or lay back in anticipation of an "easy" game? If the Canadiens opt for the latter strategy, they might be in for trouble as any team can beat any other team on any given night in this league.
Carey Price gets the start for the Habs with Pekka Reinne in the net for the Preds.
Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Update on Markov
On Tuesday, the Canadiens announced that Andrei Markov would be gone "long term" without giving any additional information. That would seem to indicate that there is some kind of tear in his knee but that they do not yet know the full extent of the injury.
TSN's Bob McKenzie Tweeted this morning that:
"To repeat, Markov is seeing Dr. Tony Miniaci in Cleveland on Friday and a final prognosis will be made then."
So I wouldn't expect any major news or updates on Markov till next week at the earliest.
On Josh Gorges and Jeff Halpern
Both Gorges and Halpern will be in the lineup tonight after getting crunched by the Flyers' Darroll Powe. Halpern looked like his bell was rung pretty well, but the good news is that he doesn't have a concussion and will be back on the ice tonight.
That's a good thing for the Canadiens because Halpern has been one of the most consistent players so far this season.