Hey Habs fans, have you checked the standings lately? It's pretty interesting:
That's how the Eastern conference looks right now, with the Montreal Canadiens at the head of the pack. Even if Boston wins tonight, the Habs have a one point cushion on them, so they'll keep the Division for a little longer no matter what. However New Jersey faces lowly Washington tonight, so it's likely that the Canadiens have to win to maintain their first in the East stature.
In their way tonight are the New York Islanders, who split the season series with the Canadiens last season (although the Habs went 2-1-1 technically) and are 3-7-0 in their last 10 games played, losers of 2 straight.
The Islanders are a young team still, who depend heavily on the extremely talented and dangerous John Tavares. Tavares hasn't disappointed this year, with 11 goals and 20 points in 16 games. Tavares ranks 7th in the NHL in points, and 3rd in goals. He's become the star player so many believed him to be in junior. And he does it without much help.
Depth is something that the Islanders don't really have, especially with a guy like Kyle Okposo struggling to produce.
The Habs on the other hand, seem to get scoring from 3 different lines these days. Max Pacioretty's goal scoring awakening the last two games combined with Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk getting it done with Brandon Prust has given the Canadiens some options offensively.
The top line of Tomas Plekanec, Rene Bourque and Brian Gionta continues to play very well against the opponent's top lines, and they will most likely be tasked with shutting down John Tavares tonight.
One thing to watch for tonight is whether or not Michel Therrien continues to use the Josh Gorges and Raphael Diaz pairing as his #1 shutdown duo, as the matchup of Diaz against Matt Moulson may not work out so well.
The Islanders aren't a super strong possession team, but with a Fenwick close of 49.43% (18th), they're likely a bit better than their record shows (26th). On the road the Isles have been generally weak, with a 44.86% Fenwick close, but they've outscored their competition in that scenario.
Last season the most dangerous Habs against the Islanders were Max Pacioretty, who scored 4 goals and 1 assist, and Tomas Plekanec, who racked up 4 assists, but no goals.
For the Islanders, the most dangerous players were P.A. Parenteau, who is now with Colorado, who had 4 points, and Matt Moulson, who had 3.
The game is at 7:30PM EST on RDS and TSN-Habs, we'll be here on the game thread!
Be sure to check out the game preview from the opposing side at Lighthouse Hockey, as well as their three questions with yours truly.
RSVP to the game, even if you're just watching on TV