A Crucial Test Of Character Awaits Habs In Caps Matchup


Don't look now, but the Canadiens infirmary is filling up fast.

Just as Mike Komisarek is planning a return, out drops Chris Higgins, Mathieu Dandenault, and now captain Saku Koivu. Adding to the misery, goalie Carey is down and out with the flu and has cautiously been quaranteened from the club for a few days.

Coach Guy Carbonneau will likely, or already has, rightfully assessed the situation and addressed all concerned by issuing a sentence that begins, "This is an opportunity for....."

The end of the sentence can be a generalization, but insert any player's name, or the team as an entity, and you get the picture. In other words, Guy is talking to you Sergei Kostitsyn, Guillaume Latendresse, Jaroslav Halak, Ryan O'Byrne, Tomas Plekanec, Alex Kovalev....and it's time to pick it up some!

For those inconsistant elements of the club who have often deceived when counted upon, it is now time to prove their merit. It is, oddly enough, a silver lining of sorts. All teams are tested along the course of a season, and the old adage of "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" truly applies.

When it matters most, towards the end when a season is on the line, lessons grasped during this challenge, will benefit the club when it is forced to dig deep and find the neccesary required effort to vanquish it's test.

While a simultaneous influx of broken bones, bruised muscles, and contagious sniffles are rarely opportune, this current dilema is actually presenting itself at a perfect time.

On one hand, the Canadiens opponants tonight are a similarly hit Washington Capitals, currently enduring and passing through some misery of their own. In fact, starting tonight, the Canadiens final eight dates on the 2008 calandar feature five tests against South Eastern division teams - exactly the type of opponants who have given the Habs fits so far.

Teams are generally inconsistent during the Christmas holidays, for a variety of reasons, and if the Canadiens truly possess the hunger of a championship team, it will apparent by New Year's day whether this Habs club is the real deal or not.

For tonight's game, the Canadiens have recalled center Brad Maxwell from the Hamilton Bulldogs, and he will be slotted into Koivu's line between new sensation Matt D'Agostini and a resurging Andrei Kostitsyn. Dog's goalie Marc Denis will backup Halak, who will be facing Capitals rookie Simeon Varlamov, making his NHL debut 200 feet away.


Photos courtesy of Habs Inside Out

Oh yeah, no half of a Habs Girl to jinx this one, Topham!

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