Montreal Canadiens Game Day: Carey Price, Habs Take on Upstart Oilers

Kamal PanesarCorrespondent IDecember 1, 2010

MONTREAL- NOVEMBER 27:  Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens stops the puck during the NHL game against the Buffalo Sabres at the Bell Centre on November 27, 2010 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Canadiens defeated the Sabres 3-1.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

The Montreal Canadiens, fresh off of a three-day hiatus, awake this morning rested and ready to take on the upstart Edmonton Oilers at the Bell Centre.

As we have transitioned form November to December, Carey Price is the player whose name is on everyone's lips. Not only for his spectacular play so far this season—1.95 GAA, .935 save percentage and 14 wins in 22 games—but also for capturing the Molson Cup as the Habs player with the best three stars standing, for the November segment of the season.

As if that wasn't enough, Price has 145,726 votes on the All-Star ballot as of this morning, second only to Sidney Crosby's 218,791. Keep in mind, however, that all of Price's votes are write-ins since his name isn't even on the All-Star ballot!

No more Mr. Nice Guy indeed. Or perhaps I should say no more Mr. Dirt-Stache, since the end of November also brings the end of Movember, which in turn brings an end to all of the scraggly facial hair around the league.

Price will make his 23rd start of the season tonight against the Oilers, but the big question is whether Scott Gomez will finally decide to join the party.

The Habs' $7.3 million center has been blasted by fans and media alike for his lack of production and, more importantly, his lack of focus on the ice. With only seven points over 25 games, Gomez is on pace to put up only 24 this season—a low water mark for his career.

Despite some obvious holes in the team, look for Jacques Martin to keep the same lineup together that defeated the Sabres 3-1 on Saturday.

On the back end, there is still no official prognosis on Andrei Markov's injured knee. Suffice it to say, however, that it is looking more and more like he will be gone long term and potentially for the entire season.

The word is that further assessment needs to be done in order to properly determine the extent of his injury and the duration of his absence. But, with his contract expiring at the end of the season I think it is more likely that Markov is look for a doctor, any doctor, who will tell him that he is alright to play.

It's an unfortunate situation for one of the truly good people in the NHL.

The Oilers, in contrast to the Canadiens, are a team that is near the bottom of the league and look like they are a few years away from being able to contend for a playoff spot.

But with a young, skilled nucleus of Jordan Eberle, Gilbert Brule, Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi, Sam Gagner and Dustin Penner, this is a team who can do damage to you on any given night. As such, the Habs would be wise not to take this game lightly and, given the character of the club, I would be surprised if they did.

The Oilers are coming off a 4-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators and will be eager to keep the party going. The Habs are not in a dissimilar boat, having a win-one-lose-one record over the last six games. That being said, their 31 points in the standings have them in the first place in the Northeast division, despite their struggle to find consistency of late.

Martin Gerber is likely to get his second consecutive start for the Oilers unless Nikolai Khabibulin is ready to return from a groin injury.

The puck drops at around 7:05 pm.

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