The Montreal Canadiens have exorcised some demons of late.
Their post-Olympic goaltending catastrophe may be over, what with the return of Carey Price and a Dustin Tokarski shutout. Their respect for the possession game seems to have returned, as the Habs have hit their highest 10 game rolling fenwick close number since they leapt out of the gates in October. The Canadiens even stared down the elephant in their room*, voluntarily removing Douglas Murray from the lineup for their convincing win over Buffalo on Sunday evening.
*Not intended to be a, "Douglas Murray is big and slow" play on words. Not that he isn't big and slow, of course, but that's neither here nor there.
Tonight, the Habs will look to exorcise another demon. In the midst of the team's worst slump of the season, a five game losing streak which took place around the start of November, the Canadiens suffered a particularly discouraging loss.
There's not much to say to establish that the Colorado game wasn't pretty. The Habs lost 4-1, and it was never close. The Avalanche absolutely dominated at even strength. Colorado point scorers included the dynamic Patrick Bordeleau and long-time AHLer Marc-Andre Cliche, who has scored but 5 other points in 62 other NHL games. All of this occurred during a game when one of the most notable members of Montreal's cadre of NHL icons was facing his former team for the first time, while coaching the squad that he was heinously trade to, to boot. If any of this motivated the CH, it certainly didn't show into the outcome.
Tale of the tape
The Canadiens will have to be much better than they were last time, and thankfully, they're equipped to accomplish that. This time, Max Pacioretty won't be coming back from an injury. Even better, he'll lineup across from another dangerous sniper, the recently acquired Thomas Vanek. Best of all, both players will lineup on a team that is finally beginning to show a real commitment toward possession hockey, allowing them to play from the position of dominant possession team for one of the first times this season.
The Avs will be missing the useful P.A. Parenteau, and may also be without Paul Stastny. Meanwhile, Patrick Roy has elected try his hand with the aging and average Jean-Sebastien Giguere, whose save percentage lags behind the well behind the pack. That said, the former Conn Smythe winner was able to stymie the Habs last time out.
The Canadiens can be better tonight, and continue to solidify their playoff position. Lest the game turn out like the last one, we're counting on them to do so.