Habs Capitals preview: Someone's gotta score
Today we celebrate Earth Hour, but the Montreal Canadiens offense has already done that twice this week, coming off back-to-back shutout losses to the Buffalo Sabres and the Boston Bruins. The Canadiens have now been shut out eight times this season, one shy of the club record.
Their opponents tonight, the Washington Capitals, are coming off Friday's 2-0 loss at the hands of the Ottawa Senators.It was the tenth time this season that Washington has been shutout.
So at least one team should be able to score tonight, unless it goes to a 0-0 tie after overtime.
Tonight's game closes out the four-regular season series, in which the Capitals hold a 2-1 edge.
Fans who got tickets to tonight's game at the Bell Centre, might be a bit disappointed as Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin will not be playing. OVV8 is home resting an undisclosed injury while his team closes out their six-game road trip.
Mike Green and Tom Poti are also still out for the visiting squad. The Capitals do have some good news from their sick bay, as goaltender Semyon Varlamov has returned to the lineup. Varlamov played Friday when Michal Neuvirth was ill.
Despite Varlamov's return, Braden Holtby will get the start in goal for the Capitals. Carey Prce gets the call for the Canadiens.
Montreal coach Jacques Martin has also shuffled his lineup, following a humiliating 7-0 loss to the Bruins on Thursday.
Lines on Thursday saw Scott Gomez centering Andrei Kostitsyn and captain Brian Gionta, while Travis Moen was with Tomas Plekanec and Mike Cammalleri. David Desharnais is with Benoit and Ryan White, and Jeff Halpern is back at center beteen Mathieu Darche and Lars Eller.
On the injury front, defenceman Alexandre Picard is hobbling around on cruthces and we know the story on the others.
It will be interesting to monitor Plekanec, who is suspected to be returning from a groin injury. The Canadiens center was not moving at his usual pace on Thursday, but then again who was?, so Martin may keep number 14's ice time limited dependeing how the game goes.
The big concern for the Canadiens however is their lack of offense. After a big 8-1 win last Sunday, the offense has gone quiet. Marc-Antione Godin had a good piece in today's La Presse on the Habs silent guns.
The Canadiens have lost three of their last four games and are 5-5 in their last ten outings. Montreal sits two points back of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have a game in hand, in the Eastern Conference Standings. A loss tonight though would see the Habs fall to seventh behind the New York Rangers, who blanked the Bruins earlier this afternoon.
Capitals preview from Japers' Rink
Jean Beliveau signing at Montreal Card show Sunday
Habs Alumni touring Montreal and Ontario. Chris Nilan, Gary Leeman, Claude Lemieuz and HOFer Steve Shutt are part of the NHL Oldtimer's Challenge making it's way across the country. The tour is on Montreal tonight at the Verdun Auditorium at 6pm, Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto Wed at 3pm and London on the 28th. Details on the rest of the tour and tickets can be found here.
Kristo one step closer to Frozen Four: Habs prospect Danny Kristo had one of the University of North Dakota's half dozen goals in their 6-0 win over Rensselaer. They'll play the winner of the Denver/Western Michigan game tomorrow.
Uuber Stats man Chris Boucher broke down two of the games between Washington and Montreal .
"How they can win
-The Caps should give up the blueline easy. If Montreal can get the puck to Gomez, Desharnais and Eller in the neutral-zone, they should be able to establish pressure in the offensive-zone.
*Plekanec has struggled carrying the puck in against the Caps*
-Tighten up the neutral-zone; The Caps can hurt you off the transition.
-Do a better job winning faceoffs in the O-zone."