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Friday, January 24, 2014

Pregame Preview: Canadiens at Red Wings (Game #51)

montreal canadiens vs detroit red wings nhl 
Match Up:

The struggling Canadiens (27-18-5) are in Detroit Friday to face the Red Wings (22-18-10) for the first time this season. The game is set to start at 7:30 and can be seen on RDS and TSN.

This is the first of four meetings between the Habs and Wings this season. The game takes place two years less a day since the last time these teams faced off. The Canadiens scored a 7-2 win on Bell Centre ice that night, David Desharnais and Erik Cole had 3 points each. The last time the Habs played in Detroit was December, 2010.

What to Watch:

Carey Price was pulled from Wednesday game in the second period after giving up 5 goals in 21 shots. It was just the second time this season Peter Budaj needed to step in to replace Price. Nathan Beaulieu played in his second straight game on Wednesday, he finished the night at +1 and saw close to 15 minutes of ice time.

The Red Wings have struggled through injuries all season long, Drew Miller and Kyle Quincey are the only Wings to play all 50 games so far. Detroit's top three scorers, Henrik Zetterberg (42 points), Pavel Datsyuk (32) and Daniel Alfredsson (30) have missed over 10 games each.

The injury woes continue for the Red Wings as starting goalie Jimmy Howard is sidelined which means Jonas Gustavsson will be in nets. The good news for Detroit is that despite his 2.47 goals against average, Gustavsson boasts a 12-3-2 record this season.

What's at Stake:

After allowing 17 goals in their last 4 games, the Habs are looking for a solid defensive outing Friday night. The Red Wings are 5 points back of the Canadiens as more and more Eastern bubble teams climb to within striking distance of Montreal.

Who's Out:

The Habs are still missing Alex Galchenyuk (hand), Ryan White (upper body) and Davis Drewiske (shoulder). Call-ups Louis Leblanc and Nathan Beaulieu are both expected to dress Friday night which will likely leave George Parros, Raphael Diaz and Francis Bouillon in the press box.

The Red Wings are missing top forwards Johan Franzen (concussion), Pavel Datsyuk (lower body) and Stephen Weiss (groin), starting goalie Jimmy Howard (knee) is also out, so are forwards Joakim Andersson (lower body) and Cory Emmerton (hand). One positive note for Detroit is that Daniel Alfredsson is expected to return to the lineup on Friday after missing the last 6 games with back spasms.

What Else:

It took a little over half the season but the Habs finally get to take on their new division rivals for the first time this year. The Wings are the only team the Canadiens haven't yet encountered this season, they meet 4 times in the last 32 games. The Canadiens don't get to play in Detroit very often, for David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty, this will be their first NHL games played in Joe Louis Arena, the same goes for Alexei Emelin, Brendan Gallagher, Michael Bournival, Louis Leblanc and Nathan Beaulieu.

The Question Mark:

We want to hear from you, between the players, coaching staff and upper management which group needs to step up to get the Habs back on track?

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.

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