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Canadiens vs Avalanche game preview

Two days after beating the struggling Bruins, can the Habs do the same to a downtrodden Avalanche team?

Richard Wolowicz

Fans of the Montreal Canadiens spent the better part of three days in anxiety. It took only sixty minutes to wash that all away.

The Habs hung in with the Boston Bruins, twice coming back from a one goal deficit to reclaim the lead. They finally got their first powerplay goal of the year, and while they still had a difficult time producing chances off the cycle, a David Desharnais effort on the transition means that I get to backspace the 0.0 out of the tale of the tape. Best of all, Carey Price gave his strongest performance of the young season, making a handful of key saves to keep the Bruins at bay.

Now, the Habs have the same mission they had prior to the Tampa game: sustaining their momentum. As it happens, they'll attempt to do so against an opponent in exactly the opposite circumstances.

How to watch

Time: 7:00pm EST
In Canada (English): City TV
In Canada (French): TVA Sports
In Colorado: Altitude
Elsewhere: NHL Center Ice or NHL Gamecenter Live

Tale of the Tape

2014-10-18 TofT COL

Know Your Enemy

Remember how it felt to live through Monday's loss to Tampa? I can only imagine, but that must be close to how Colorado's fan-base has felt through their team's first five games.

The Avs opened their season with two consecutive shutout losses, losing by a cumulative 8-0 score against their playoff opponent of last spring in Minnesota. Since then, they've managed to lose games to the Maple Leafs and Senators, and in the process accomplish the auspicious goal of getting drilled in possession by Toronto. If it were not for Reto Berra stealing a game from the Boston Bruins, the Avalanche may be stuck with only a single point on the season so far.

Continuing the series of unfortunate events, Berra won't be able to offer his services tonight, nor will last season's star, Semyon Varlamov. Colorado relied heavily on strong goaltending as a pillar of their success in Patrick Roy's first campaign as head coach. Now, they'll have to find a way to dig themselves out of their early season hole with Calvin Pickard in the crease. Pickard is an average AHL keeper over two seasons' work, and was hit for 4 goals against by the Sens in his NHL debut on Thursday. With goaltenders, anything is possible game-to-game, but the Avalanche bleed shots at a higher rate than most teams in the league. For Pickard, tonight could prove to be a colossal challenge.

Of course, Colorado has one ace up their sleeve at all times, and that's the top-notch talent at the top of their forward lineup. The Avalanche have been snake-bitten so far, with only 7 goals on the board, but with names like O'Reilly, Landeskog, Duchene, MacKinnon, and Iginla on their top two lines, the Avs are more than capable of putting up 7 tonight.

Last Time Out

The Canadiens took on the Avalanche twice in the preseason, besting them both times. The second contest was characterized by the Habs' young lineup, as the Canadiens (with only four veterans) took on a near-complete lineup for Colorado and came away with the victory. Dustin Tokarski was solid, and the Habs got enough push from their young players to earn the win in Quebec City.

Barring unfortunate or unforeseen circumstances, Tokarski won't see the ice tonight, but that shouldn't stop the Habs from taking two points. The Avalanche are in tough to start the year. It will be up to Carey Price to keep them there.