Canadiens vs Lightning game thread

USA TODAY Sports

Canadiens take on Tampa - a first round playoff preview with home ice advantage on the line.

With a win tonight, the Habs can clinch a playoff spot. A point might also clinch a spot, but only in the event of certain outcomes. Here are the scenarios in which the Habs can cement their spot in the playoffs tonight (care of NHL.COM):

The Canadiens would clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they defeat the Lightning in any fashion OR if they get one point against the Lightning AND the Capitals lose to the Stars in any fashion OR if the Capitals lose to the Stars in regulation AND the Devils lose to the Sabres in any fashion.

The good news is that the Habs have limited the Lightning to 4 (non-shootout) goals this season, the bads news is that they were facing a Tampa Bay Lightning line-up that wasn't able to dress Steven Stamkos. And while Stamkos hasn't been scoring at the same clip he was before injury (.82 GPG), he has come back strong with 9 goals in 13 games (.69 GPG). Additionally Ben Bishop has been strong vs the Canadiens this year, stopping 76 of 79 shots fired at him in three games against Montreal this season.

One of the questions hanging over the Habs as the playoffs loom, is how will Michel Therrien shut down Steven Stamkos? Tomas Plekanec is seen as the likeliest counter, but are Plekanec's linemates up to the task? Should Plekanec be reunited with winger Brian Gionta - giving the Habs a stronger defensive answer to Stamkos? Tonight will be a good chance to see how Therrien answers the Stamkos question.

Another (less pressing) question is Rene Bourque's problems with ice time. It's been no secret that Bourque's ice time has decreased as the season has worn on. Bourque hasn't played over 14 and a half minutes in almost two months, but his play also hasn't warranted in an increase in ice time. Since February 8th (when he played 17 plus minutes), Bourque has one goal and three assists in 12 games. Bourque feels he's better suited to duty alongside Gionta and Briere. We'll see how he's used tonight. He's projected to play alongside Bournival and White.

Tale of the tape


Habs-lightning_tale_of_the_tape_medium

Puck drop is at 7:30 PM EST
Montreal Canadiens Projected Lineup
Left Wing
Center
Right Wing
Max Pacioretty David Desharnais Thomas Vanek
Alex Galchenyuk Tomas Plekanec Brendan Gallagher
Lars Eller Danny Briere Brian Gionta
Rene Bourque Ryan White Michael Bournival
Left Defense
Right Defense
Andrei Markov Alexei Emelin
Francis Bouillon P.K. Subban
Douglas Murray Mike Weaver
Goaltenders
Carey Price
Peter Budaj

Scratches: Jarred Tinordi, George Parros

Injuries: Josh Gorges (fractured hand, 1 week), Brandon Prust (upper body, out for the remainder of the season), Dale Weise (tendon), Travis Moen (concussion).

As for the Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lineup
Left Wing
Center
Right Wing
J.T. Brown Steven Stamkos Teddy Purcell
Ondrej Palat Valtteri Flippula Ryan Callahan
Alex Killorn Tyler Johnson Nikita Kucherov
Ryan Malone Nate Thompson Richard Panik
Left Defense
Right Defense
Matt Carle Radko Gudas
Victor Hedman Sami Salo
Eric Brewer Mike Kostka
Goaltenders
Ben Bishop
Anders Lindback

Scratches: Keith Aulie, Mark Barberio, Tom Pyatt, BJ Crombeen, Cody Kunyk

Injuries: Brian Lee (knee surgery - out indefinitely), Mattias Ohlund (knee surgery - out indefinitely)

Check out the opposing side at Raw Charge

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