It’s the home stretch for the Montreal Canadiens, with nine games between them and what is arguably their most important off-season in recent memory. Standing in their way are the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins. These two teams clashed just a week ago, in the middle of Antti Niemi’s revenge tour against his former clubs. Despite the Finnish netminder’s best effort, a late Patric Hornqvist goal secured a hard fought win for the Penguins, and was the best effort put forth by the Habs in recent games.
For Montreal, these games are simply about taking stock of what’s available, and seeing how different pieces play in the lineup. Guys like Nikita Scherbak and Mike Reilly are making great impacts and clearly impressing Claude Julien. For recent AHL call-ups Michael McCarron and Brett Lernout, they’re using these games as a learning tool and taking their experiences into the off-season to focus on hopefully becoming an NHL regular next year.
As for the Penguins, they’re likely playoff bound, barring a catastrophic collapse to end the year. Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin remain as ridiculously good as ever at putting points on the board, while Sidney Crosby is somehow the third highest scoring forward on his own team. They’ll also be bolstered by a returning Matt Murray, who like Carey Price has been out dealing with concussion related issues. On the second half of a back-to-back, the Penguins could turn to Casey DeSmith.
How to Watch
Puck drop is at 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: Sportsnet (English), RDS (French)
In the Penguins region: AT&T Sports-Pittsburgh
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL GameCentre Live, NHL Center Ice
Montreal Canadiens projected lineup
|Jacob de la Rose
Pittsburgh Penguins projected lineup