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Monday, March 22, 2010

Pivotal Habs/Sens Game Awards Winner 5th Place Overall

With the Habs missing a golden opportunity to jump ahead in the standings over the weekend, they get another kick at the can tonight in Montreal versus the Sens.

The Habs were able to pull one point out of their weekend matchup against the Leafs, and as a result—and because of Philly's current 2-game losing streak and the Sens 5-game drought—the Habs are now tied for points (79) and games played (72) with the Sens and Flyers.

Tonight's game is yet another 4-point game in a string of 4-pointers from here till the end of the season. As inconsistently as the Habs were playing before the Olympic break they can, almost unbelievably, move into sole possession of 5th overall in the East with a win tonight.

While there has been speculation that Mike Cammalleri and/or Marc-Andre Bergeron would be back in the lineup tonight, the latest news is that neither are ready for action.

At this point it looks like it will be one more game before one or both of them are back in the lineup leading to the obvious question of who to sit when they're back.

If it's up to me, I'm sitting Maxim Lapierre who has continued to be more or less invisible on the ice. Sit him and put MAB in his spot on the 4th line. As for Cammalleri, it is a no-brainer to put him back on the top line with AK46 and Plekanec, but what to do about Pyatt?

This kid has filled in admirably on the Habs top line since Cammy's injury as he leaves it all on the ice night after night. That being said, it is pretty clear that he is not a top-6 but rather and bottom-6 player. But he is young and, even if sent down to the minors, should get a good shot at making the team out of camp next season.

As for goaltending, Halak will get the start again in nets. While no one has said anything publically, it is clear that Halak is the unofficial #1 goaltender on this team.

That being said, Price will get some starts before the end of the season—look for him to possibly be in nets versus Buffalo on Wednesday—but barring a major melt down by Halak, he will clearly be penciled in as the backup on most nights.

A win tonight would give Montreal 81 points overall, only seven back of the Devils and Buffalo. Seven points is a lot to make up over the remaining 9 games, but who would have thought, before the break, that the Habs would ever have a shot at 4th overall this year?

Parity indeed.

So the question now is: are the Habs really the team that has only 2 regulation losses over their last 10 games, or the one that struggled to break .500 before the Olympics?

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