Canadiens Game Day: Shaken But Not Stirred, Habs Take On Isles in Montreal

Kamal PanesarCorrespondent IFebruary 10, 2011

UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 26: The Montreal Canadiens skate against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on December 26, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Canadiens 4-1.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The battered and bruised Montreal Canadiens are back at home to take on the floundering New York Islanders tonight at the Bell Centre.

Montreal is coming off a raucous affair against the Bruins that saw both teams explode for a collective eight goals in the second period and 187 penalty minutes on the night.

And while the Canadiens got thumped 8-6 on the scoreboard, they were also manhandled physically, with several non-fighters being forced to drop the gloves.

As such, you'd expect the emotionally spent Habs to be in rough shape tonight against the Isles in a game that Montreal needs to win.

They need the win to keep pace with the Bruins—who now have a four-point lead over the Habs for first in the Northeast—but more importantly, for their morale and collective ego, both of which might have taken major hits last night.

For the Islanders, life in the NHL has been cruel—at least, this year it has.

The Isles have been decimated by injuries, most notably to their goaltenders, meaning that backups of backups of backups are being called on to play goal.

New York is coming off of a 5-3 loss at the hands of the Leafs last night, so they will also be on the back end of two games in as many days.

In a season where highlights have been few and far between, playing at the Bell Centre could be seen as a treat, of sorts, for the lowly Isles.



Montreal is sixth overall in the East with 65 points in 55 games, to the Islanders 15th-overall position, with 41 points in 53 games.

The Islanders are one point ahead of the Edmonton Oilers for the dubious distinction of being the worst team in the NHL.



Carey Price will be getting the rest tonight in favour of Alex Auld, who will be making his eighth start of the season.

The goaltending picture is much murkier for the Islanders, who have been hit with a rash of injuries this season.

Rookie Mikko Koskinen is scheduled to get the start with Kevin Poulin sidelined with a dislocated knee cap, Nathan Lawson out with a knee problem and the starter, Rick DiPietro, out for a few weeks with a broken facial bone.


Special Teams and Scoring

Even with the Habs going 4-for-8 with the man-advantage last night, their PP is only 13th overall, operating at 18.2 percent efficiency. Their PK, on the other hand, is sixth overall, at 84.7 percent.

Despite their horrendous record in the standings, the Isles have a very respectable 12th-overall penalty kill, at 83.1 percent, and a 15th-overall power play, at 17.7 percent.

Neither team has been setting the league on fire from a scoring perspective, however, with the Habs managing 145 goals for to the Isles' 131.

The big difference, however, is in the goals against department, where the Habs have the ninth-lowest goals against total with 139, to the Isles' 26th-ranked 174.

So while both squads are sure to be tired tonight, the Canadiens need to get on New York early and often for their best chance at squaring this one away.



Tonight marks the first time that James Wizniewski will be facing his former team and, as such, I'd expect a big game from him.

The Montreal Canadiens recalled Ryan White from Hamilton, but Coach Martin would neither confirm nor deny that he will be in uniform tonight, saying that a pregame warm-up would determine his lineup.

With Scott Gomez, Andrei Kostitsyn and Lars Eller being benched for most of the third period last night, it will be interesting to see what Martin does with his line combinations.

Could tonight be the night that David Desharnais starts the game as the second-line center?

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