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Canadiens vs Avalanche game preview

1 for 1 on the preseason and ready to rotate in a new crew of of Canadiens, can the second cohort show the same promise as the first?

Richard Wolowicz

Using a roster of mostly youngsters, the Canadiens hung in with the Boston Bruins and managed to come away with their first victory of the preseason. Now, the cavalry is coming.

Carey Price and P.K. Subban will make their first appearances of the 2014-15 season this evening, as will fellow veterans like Alexei Emelin. Peter Budaj is also expected to make an appearance. Tuesday night's game featured solid performances by players like Jiri Sekac, Christian Thomas, and even Michael McCarron, prior to his injury. Conversely, bubble players like Jarred Tinordi and Greg Pateryn did little to help raise their stock.

With the team almost out of practice days, and only ten days left in the preseason schedule, time to cash in on the investments each player has made during the summer is almost up. Tonight, some promising young players will raise the bar, and take one step closer to their NHL dream. Inevitably, others will falter, and move one step closer to a dream vacation with Sylvain Lefebvre.

Tale of the Tape

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Know Your Enemy

The Avalanche are the second stop on the Jarome Iginla career twilight tour, as the veteran winger sealed his inclusion in the Canadiens' first three pre-season game previews by moving to Denver in free agency. Iginla's offensive firepower is an ostensible replacement for that of Paul Stastny, a dangerous player in his own right who also took a free agent leap this summer. On the positive side of the ledger, an Iginla for Stastny swap eases a logjam at centre, where Matt Duchene and the already effective Nathan Mackinnon are holding down the top two spots. Right winger Iginla gives Pat Roy's squad a first rate top-six forward group, and last year's absurdly high team shooting percentage aside, the Avalanche will probably be a high-scoring squad again this summer.

Unfortunately, transitioning from one top-sixer to another doesn't solve the Avalanche's biggest problem, and that's lack of depth. The bottom of the Avalanche depth chart is wretched, and swapping out a legitimate NHLer in P.A. Parenteau doesn't help. The Avs bled shots against at a similar rate to the Canadiens last season, but their Douglas Murrays and Francis Bouillons (and Daniel Brieres, for that matter) are still on the roster. If Semyon Varlamov can't reprise his god-like 2013-14, the Avalanche may find themselves battling for wildcard spot in a tough Western Conference.

Last Time Out

The Habs last saw the Avalanche in March, when a somewhat vulnerable team was beginning to show the signs of life that would spark the Canadiens deep playoff run. The Canadiens picked up Thomas Vanek at the trade deadline, but endured a simultaneous injury to Carey Price. When a less than successful Western road trip gave way to an unceremonious drubbing at the hands of the Bruins, the Habs were a team in need of an emotional lift.

That life came in the form of the comeback game in Ottawa, and by the time the Avalanche game rolled around, the Canadiens were back on the upswing. Come for the Thomas Vanek hat trick, stay for the semi-annual flash of Travis Moen looking like Maurice Richard.