Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pregame Preview: Canadiens at Panthers (Game #40)


Match Up:

The Canadiens (23-13-3) will finish their stay in sunny Florida with a Sunday evening meeting against the Panthers (14-20-5). The early bird special starts at 5:00 and airs on RDS and TSN.

It's the second of four meetings between the Habs and Panthers. Florida pulled off an improbable 2-1 win against the Canadiens two weeks ago on Bell Centre ice, holding the Habs to 18 shots over 3 periods.

What to Watch:

Tomas Plekanec has goals in consecutive games and is up to 13 on the season. Brian Gionta has 4 assists in his last 5 games, bringing him up to 20 points on the year.

The Panthers have a pair of rookie sensations helping to lead the way. Nick Bjugstad scored the winner in Montreal when these teams last met, he has 8 goals and 15 points on the season. Last draft's second overall pick, Aleksander Barkov has been on a tear recently with a goal and 4 assists in his last 5 games, he's up to 17 points on the season.

What's at Stake:

The Habs should feel the need to take some revenge on the lowly Panthers and earn what is on paper an easy two points. Montreal is just a point shy of the 50-point mark at just under the halfway point in the season.

Who's Out:

Peter Budaj is slated to get the start Sunday night, giving Carey Price a night off after his shootout win versus the Lightning. The Canadiens are missing George Parros (concussion) and Davis Drewiske (shoulder), but are healthy enough to force Michel Therrien to do some juggling. Michael Bournival was a healthy scratch against the Lightning, as was Douglas Murray.

The Panthers are dealing with a slew of injuries including Ed Jovanovski (hip_, Scottie Upshall (upper body), Jesse Winchester (hand) and Erik Gudbranson (orbital bone), however, Tim Thomas is expected to get the call in nets for Florida, his first start in 3 weeks.

What Else:

The Habs are on a 2-game win streak heading into Sunday's game, but they only have 1 regulation win in their last 8 games, a 3-1 victory against the Coyotes. The team has just 10 regulation goals in that span, including an empty-netter. Plekanec, Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, David Desharnais and PK Subban are the only Canadiens to find the back of the net since the 6-0 loss the LA Kings.

The Question Mark:

What's more exciting, watching the Habs travel through Florida, on watching the World Junior Hockey Championship?

Let us know what you think by using the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter or leave us a comment below.

Be sure to tune into the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show an hour before the puck drop and the Post Game Show 5 minutes after the final siren. Join the live conversation by using the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter.


I have noticed that scouting guru Trevor Timmins has drafted Less Ontarion born (OHL) players during his too long a tenure with the team, and I find that really sad that he values Americans and small Europeans over OHL players.

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