The Canadiens (27-17-5) are in Pittsburgh Wednesday night to take on the Eastern leading Penguins (34-13-2). The game is set to start at 7:00 and airs on RDS and TSN.
This is the second of three meetings between the Habs and Pens, the Canadiens have already picked up a 3-2 victory on home ice. Max Pacioretty had two goals including the game winner. After three straight goals by the Habs, James Neal scored a pair to bring the Penguins back to within one. Evgeni Malkin had assists on both.
What to Watch:
Max Pacioretty is riding a 4-game point streak heading into Wednesday's game, he's up to 21 goals on the year in 40 games played. Lars Eller has been struggling to find his game recently, he's gone 7 games without a point. Eller had 6 points in his first 3 games this season, but only managed to put up 4 points all of December.
With 68 points in 49 games, Sidney Crosby leads the league and is well on his way to his second career Art Ross Trophy. James Neal and Evgeni Malkin both missed significant action this year but are also over a point per game on the season, Malkin has 48 points in 38 games and Neal has 36 in 28. Chris Kunitz has 24 goals and 49 points in 49 games.
What's at Stake:
After an extended streak of trading wins and losses, the Habs tied with the Leafs for third spot in the Atlantic heading into Wednesday’s game. They're still comfortably holding down a playoff spot, but the Canadiens have gone from looking ahead at teams like the Lightning and Bruins to looking over their shoulders.
The Canadiens are missing Alex Galchenyuk (hand) and Davis Drewiske (shoulder). Ryan White (upper body) is nearing a return but there's no indication he'll play Wednesday. With Joonas Nattinen returning to the Bulldogs after Saturday's game, Louis Leblanc was called up to the big team.
The Pens are missing Pascal Dupuis (knee), Joe Vitale (wrist), Beau Bennett (wrist), Brian Gibbons (lower body), Andrew Ebbett (ankle), Chris Conner (hand) and back up goalie Tomas Vokoun (hip).
The Canadiens are in the midst of an identity crisis, the team hasn't put together back-to-back wins or losses since the Christmas break. The good news is, the Habs have scored power play goals in two straight games, against the Leafs Saturday and the Sens on Thursday, but they've also given up 14 goals in their last three games. The penalty kill is still a strong point for the Canadiens, but the way they've been running, it seems only a matter of time before that falters as well.
The Question Mark:
We want to hear from you, aside from the Penguins, which team do you expect to see representing the East in the Stanley Cup Finals?
Let us know what you think, leave a comment or send us a tweet by using the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter.
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.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
8:18 AM Rob Elbaz 4 comments