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Monday, November 22, 2010

Canadiens Game Day: P.K. Subban and Mike Richards Faceoff

by Kamal Panesar

The Montreal Canadiens are in the city of brotherly love, this morning, in preparation for tonight's game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

While Philadelphia holds the moniker of brotherly love, I'm fairly certain there will be no love lost in tonight's tilt between the two conference rivals.

In case you've been hiding under a rock the last few weeks, these two teams clashed last Tuesday and the result was a 3-0 Canadiens win. More than just winning, the Canadiens, and in particular rookie defenseman P.K. Subban, played up to the Flyers and didn't at all appear intimidated by their goon tactics.

This prompted Flyers' Captain, Mike Richards, to tell the media that he felt Subban has to earn respect and if he is not careful he will get hurt.

Richards is a smart cookie and his rant has put the spotlight directly on Subban. P.K. is a confident guy and one who seems very capable of handling himself. That being said, it will be interesting to see if Richards got into Subban's head or not. While Subban is a confident young man, he is not necessarily impervious to psychological warfare.

Will Subban stick to his game or will he get caught running around? If he chooses the latter path, then Richards has won this round.

The Flyers are sure to give the rookie extra attention tonight so Subban had better keep his head up. I'd like to see players like Travis Moen and Maxim Lapierre doing a better job of insulating young Subban so that he doesn't have to get involved in fights, and can stick to playing hockey. Subban might have the strength to throw down but the Canadiens are better served with him on the ice than in the penalty box.

Only one point separates these two teams in the standings and the winner of tonight's match will stake a claim on second overall in the East.

The Flyers are coming off a dramatic overtime victory against the conference leading Washington Capitals and have revenge on their minds against the Habs. They also want to continue to put the memory of a ridiculous 8-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Lighting, two games ago, behind them.

The Canadiens hit a bump in the road against the Nashville Predators but have otherwise won five of their last six games, killing 26 of 27 penalties in the process. They now have the top ranked penalty killing unit in the league operating at 90.5 percent efficiency.

Carey Price will get his 20th start of the season for the Habs with Brian Boucher getting the call for the Flyers.

The stage is set and the actors are all in place. This game has the hype of a playoff matchup and is more akin to the "Thrilla in Manilla," "Intensity in Ten Cities" or "The Rumble In the Jungle."

The puck drops at 7:05 pm (ish). Tune in to see who plays Ali to who's Fraser.

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