Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Canadiens Game Day: Habs and Flyers Clash in Pre-All Star Rumble

by Kamal Panesar

Dictionary.com defines the word nemesis as follows:

nem·e·sis [nem-uh-sis]
–noun, plural

1. something that a person cannot conquer, achieve, etc.: The performance test proved to be my nemesis.
2. an opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
3. Classical Mythology, the goddess of divine retribution.
4. an agent or act of retribution or punishment.

If ever the Montreal Canadiens had a nemesis, the Philadelphia Flyers would be that team.

The Flyers and Canadiens have played each other in two playoff series since 2008, with Montreal losing both series four games to one.  In addition, the two teams have faced each other three times already this season with the Flyers winning two out of three.

Moreover, Philly has been able to physically dominate the small, fast Canadiens forwards and, as such, it has been a long time since Montreal has had any real answer for what the Flyers bring.

So tonight's fourth and final meeting is sure to be a high intensity match between these two teams whose rivalry seems to grow with each encounter.  Not only because of the bad blood between the two teams but, with a week off for the All-Star break starting tomorrow, both teams are sure to leave it all on the ice.

The Flyers are the No. 1 team in the league with 69 points in the standings—tied with the Canucks for points but ahead of them by virtue of their 32 wins to Vancouver’s 30—and look like the odds-on favorite to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Montreal, on the other hand, has had its ups and downs this season.  In addition, the Canadiens are decimated by injuries, having lost both Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges to season-ending knee problems.  In addition, top sniper Michael Cammalleri continues to be sidelined with a separated shoulder.

Yet, despite its losses, "Team Clinic" is 6-1-3 over its last 10 games and only two points out of first place in its division.  A win tonight by Montreal would put it in a tie with the Rangers and the Bruins—first place in the Northeast—with 61 points.  In addition, it would leave the Canadiens only two back of Washington and three back of Pittsburgh, fifth and fourth, respectively, in the Eastern Conference.

Needless to say, Montreal wants this win really badly.

Another source of motivation is that neither team wants to go into a one-week break on a loss, so expect a playoff atmosphere tonight at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly.

Claude Giroux and Mike Richards are the two hottest players for the Flyers, with five points in two games and five points in three games, respectively.  For Montreal, the defense is bringing the heat with James Wizniewski's 12 points in his last 11 games and P.K. Subban having six in his last six.

Max Pacioretty has also been heating things up lately with four points in his last two games.

Tonight's game is one that will feature a nice goaltending matchup with Carey Price—24 wins—going head-to-head against Sergei Bobrovsky—20 wins.

Montreal will be getting a much-needed boost to its lineup with the return of Jeff Halpern in favour of Andreas Engqvist, who was sent back down to Hamilton yesterday.

Game time is at 7:30 p.m. with the puck dropping around 7:40 p.m. for what should be one heck of a game!

(Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images North America)


Ryan White is going to have an important role tonight and it is going to be a big test for the kid. You can pretty much gurantee he's going to drop the gloves.

I just hope the team shows up to play and doesn't throw out a dud.

Hey Willey and thanks for your comment!

Yep, White is definitely a player to keep your eyes on and I agree that he will drop the gloves.

He has to show that he belongs and that he brings something unique to the table...dropping the gloves would definitely cover both of those angles!

Isn't White already in the top 10 on the team in hits?

Ok I am joking but If you take a quick look at the stats White has 8 hits in 2 games. By those nyumbers if he played just 10 games he'd be right there for top 10 on the team.

That says alot about how this team is built and how they'll struggle in the playoffs until this is addressed.

Yep, very good point Willey.

Honestly, White reminds me of Aaron Asham...who the Habs drafted and traded and who now plays for the Flyers.

White, like Asham, is not the biggest guy in the world but he is strong, scrappy and will go toe-to-toe with anyone.

Much needed player on the Habs.

I could see him and Asham dusting off tonight...

So apparently it's now newsworthy that Claude Giroux hates the Habs. I've no doubt the Canadiens players are gnashing their teeth in anguish over that one, devastated that a French-speaking hockey player doesn't want to play for Les Glorieux.

Oh wait, no. That's just the French media.

I think the Flyers are a well-balanced and strong team that will likely take the Cup this year. I think it's entirely likely that I'll still hate them 20 years from now, and still think they're fashionless Cro-Magnons for whom I will never feel anything but revulsion and disdain.

I expect CKAC to call any minute now, and get my permission to break this riveting common sense... er... news to the masses.

Also, I washed my hair today. Can you believe it?


Good stuff Tyg and thanks for your comment!

You are SO right! This is a non-story! As much as many in the French media lament the fact that the Canadiens don't have enough French players, the irony is that many French-Canadian players have no interest in playing for the Habs.

And, a big part of that reason is BECAUSE OF the French media.


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