Thursday, January 2, 2014

Pregame Preview: Canadiens at Stars (Game #42)


Match Up:

The Canadiens (23-14-4) kick off the New Year in Dallas when they face the Stars (20-12-7) Thursday night. The game is set to start at 8:30 and will be broadcast on RDS.

This is the second and final game between the Stars and Habs this season. The Canadiens already defeated the Stars on Bell Centre ice, claiming a 2-1 victory at the end of October. Raphael Diaz had a pair of assists in the game while Michael Bournival and Rene Bourque had the goals. Carey Price held down the fort with a 27-save performance.

What to Watch:

David Desharnais capped off an excellent month of December with 3 assists against the Hurricanes Tuesday night. Desharnais had a goal and 10 assists in his 14 games last month, factoring in almost 40% of Montreal's December goals. Max Pacioretty had himself a 2-goal night in Carolina, it was his fifth multi-goal game of the season.

In his first season with the Stars, Tyler Seguin is looking like the dominant scorer that he was expected to become when he was drafted second overall by the Boston Bruins in 2010. The 21-year old has 20 goals and 39 points in 37 games to lead the Stars. Erik Cole is on a 3-game point streak, the former Hab has 4 goals and an assist in that span.

What's at Stake:

The Canadiens suffered an epic third period collapse against the Canes Tuesday night, losing in overtime after bringing a 3-0 lead into the third period. The loss capped off a disappointing run for the Habs that started with a 6-0 loss to the Kings and saw them go 4-5-1 in their last 10. A solid performance against the Stars will help the Habs get over their sloppy end to 2013 and set them up for the second half of the season.

Who's Out:

The Canadiens are missing Davis Drewiske (shoulder) but are otherwise healthy enough to force Michel Therrien into leaving several bodies in the press box. Against the Hurricanes, Douglas Murray and Daniel Briere were left out of the line-up.

The Stars are without veteran defensemen Sergei Gonchar (concussion), Stephane Robidas (leg) and Trevor Daley (ankle).

What Else:

With exactly half the season in the books, the Habs are on pace for a 100-point season, a mark they haven't reached since 2007-08 when they were the top team in the Eastern Conference. Last year, Montreal finished the shortened season with 63 points in 48 games, a record that had them on pace for about 108 points. If they maintained that pace, the Canadiens would have enjoyed their best season since 1988-89 when the team finished with 115 points.

The Question Mark:

We want to hear from you: What grade would you give the Habs on the first half of their season? Who were their A+ players?

Let us know what you think, leave us a comment below or send us a tweet using the #MTLHockey hashtag.

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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