The Montreal Canadiens (16-9-5) host the Philadelphia Flyers (17-7-6). Both teams are in the second positions of their respective decisions. In the two previous meetings of the season, each team snatched one away. The Habs won the first meeting 5-3 in Wachovia Center, and the Flyers took revenge 2-1 at the Bell Centre. Now, the tides have changed for each team.
Montreal is in a three-game losing skid and Philly is on a five-game winning streak. Ever since the both teams faced each other in the second round of the Playoffs last year, it's always been an entertaining matchup, especially because of the physical play of both teams.
I'll take a look in depth at the Montreal Canadiens' situation and things they need to solve to find the victory path again!
Finally Back Together!
Guy Carbonneau has rejuvenated his top scoring line from last season. Andrei Kostitsyn, Tomas Plekanec, and Alexei Kovalev were touted to be one of the best and scariest line combinations in the league. However, after 16 games together, the chemistry was lacking and they were separated. For today's game, the coach has tried reassembling this line. Now, it is left to see if they can get it going again!
The Return of Komisaurus
Mike Komisarek, one of the top defensemen of the Habs who was injured in a fight against Milan Lucic, will be back to his position tonight. Komisarek is known through the league for his physical play (second highest number of hits last season) and his immense support by blocking shots (first in the league last season).
Additionally, he is seen as a leader in the locker room, also having been behind the bench for seven games during his injury. We have to wait and see if he was indeed the missing spark for the Habs.
Georges Laraque returns to the game after being sidelined by a groin injury. He will play on the fourth trio alongside Steve Bégin and Sergei Kostitsyn. He will be a very much needed component because the Flyers like to be physical. During the series, they ran the goalie quite a numbers of times and attacked our star players. Having a player like Laraque on the ice is certainly helpful is keeping them within limits.
The Power Play
The Canadiens, whose power play is ranked 28th in the league, will have to be extra careful against the Flyers, who have scored 12 shorthanded goals. It will certainly be a challenge for the Montreal power play, but if they score, a confidence-booster.
Still struggling to find their best man on the point to accompany Andrei Markov, the Habs have tried Alex Tanguay, Sergei Kostitsyn, and Robert Lang. Recently, Alex Kovalev asked to be put on the point. We'll have to see who stays there on a long term.
Since Carey Price's injury, Halak has been given the duties of the No.1 goaltender. In his three previous starts, although miraculous and amazing at times, he has lost all three of the games. His obvious difficulty in rebound control has haunted him on many occasions. But when called upon to make the key stops, he's always there.
Today will be the team's chance to fetch him a victory by generating offense, and his responsibility will be to allow them to stay in the game.
The lines for tonight
The Habs will be rolling with three centres tonight because they have returned Ben Maxwell to the Hamilton Bulldogs. Here are the lines.
Andrei Kostitsyn - Tomas Plekanec - Alexei Kovalev
Alex Tanguay - Robert Lang - Matt D'Agostini
Guillaume Latendresse - Maxim Lapierre - Tom Kostopoulos
Sergei Kostitsyn - Steve Bégin - Georges Laraque
Andrei Markov - Mike Komisarek
Roman Hamrlik - Josh Gorges
Francis Bouillon - Patrice Brisebois
I'm excited for the game tonight. I don't really know what to expect, but I'm sure we are in for a roller coaster ride.
What do you think about these lines? Is Carbonneau right to assemble the AK46 - TP14 - AK27 line again? Leave your comments!