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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pregame Preview: Canadiens vs Coyotes (Game #36)

montreal canadiens vs phoenix coyotes nhl
Match Up:

The Canadiens (20-12-3) are home to host the Coyotes (18-9-5) Tuesday night, their last home game of 2013. The match starts at 7:30 and can be seen on RDS and TSN-Habs.

This is the first of two meeting between the Habs and Coyotes and their first meeting in Montreal since the beginning of the 2010-2011 season. The Habs are riding a 13-game undefeated streak against the Yotes that stretches back to December 9, 1998.

What to Watch:

The Canadiens offensive woes continued Sunday against the Panthers as the team was held to a goal or less for the fourth straight game. Alex Galchenyuk scored Montreal's only goal Sunday, his second in the last three games.

With the Coyotes in town, a familiar face returns to Montreal, Mike Ribiero. Ribiero leads the Coyotes in points with 26 in 32 games played. Before Saturday's loss to the Hurricanes, he had racked up 5 points in 3 games, including the game winner against the Islanders on Thursday.

Phoenix goalie Mike Smith leads the league in terms of saves this season, unfortunately for the Coyotes he has also faced more shots and allowed more goals than any other tender as well. The Kingston, Ontario native has started 27 of the 32 games the Yotes have played this season and while he has a respectable .911 save percentage, his gaa is hovering just under 3 goals per game.

What's at Stake:

After playing 11 games in 19 days, the Habs look to be a team running on fumes. They have two tough games lined up in the Coyotes and then the Blues on Thursday before facing the Predators on Saturday and then get to cash in on a well-earned week of rest during the Christmas break. Any points the Canadiens can salvage in their next three is merely a bonus.

Who's Out:

The Canadiens confirmed that George Parros suffered a concussion in his fight Saturday against Eric Boulton, he is out for the foreseeable future. Rene Bourque (upper body) and Davis Drewiske (shoulder) are also out.

The Coyotes are without Shane Doan (illness), meaning Carey Price won't have to worry about getting scored on by his cousin. Lauri Korpikoski (upper body) is also out.

What Else:

The Coyotes are currently the best team in the league that wouldn't make the playoffs if the season ended right now. With 41 points to their credit, the Yotes are 2 back of Minnesota for the final wild card spot in the West. They also hold 3 games in hand on the Wild. Meanwhile, with 43 points on the season, the Canadiens have a comfortable 9-point cushion over the Senators, the ninth place team in the East. Phoenix is tenth overall in terms of points per game, two spots ahead of the Habs.

The Question Mark:

How many points will the Habs earn in their next three games?

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

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.

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