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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Pregame Preview: Canadiens vs Blackhawks (Game #46)

montreal canadiens vs chicago blackhawks nhl 
Match Up:

The Canadiens (25-15-5) are at home Saturday night to play host the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks (29-8-9). The game starts at 7:00 and airs on RDS and CBC.

This is the first of two meetings between the original six rivals, the haven't faced each other in over two years, stretching back to December 2011. Despite the Canadiens scoring first in that game, the Hawks beat the Habs handily by a final score of 5-1.

What to Watch:

Tomas Plekanec scored the only Canadiens goal in Philly on Wednesday, extending his point streak to 3 games. Linemate Brian Gionta also has a 3-game points streak going, the captain is up to 23 points in 44 games.

Carey Price should be back between the pipes for the Habs Saturday night, he has a 6-1-2 record in his last 9 games, stretching back to mid-December.

The Hawks are in the midst of a mini-slump, at least by their standards. The team is 1-1-2 in their last 4 and Patrick Kane, their leading scorer, has just 1 assist in that span. Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews both have 4-game point streaks going. Sharp had a hat-trick against the Devils last Friday, leading the Hawks to their only win in the last 4.

What's at Stake:

If the Canadiens want to prove they are a serious contender in this league, the Chicago Blackhawks are the perfect team to make that point against. The Hawks are on pace for just under 120 points this season and they lead the league in goals per game. On the other side of things, Montreal is fourth in terms of goals allowed per game, so Saturday's match will provide a real test to the Habs' defensive mettle.

Who's Out:

The Habs are missing Alex Galchenyuk (hand), Ryan White (upper body) and defenseman Davis Drewiske (shoulder).

The Blackhawks are just missing Nikolai Khabibulin (shoulder).

What Else:

The Blackhawks may have won 2 of the last 4 Stanley Cups, but they still have a ways to go before the catch Montreal's totals. One of the NHL's original six teams, the Hawks have had ample opportunity to bring home their fair share of Cups, but the team has only won hockey's ultimate prize 5 times since they joined the league in 1926. The Canadiens have won a league best 24 Stanley Cups, but haven't taken home a championship in over 20 years.

The Question Mark:

We want to hear from you, what were your expectations for the Habs this season and are you satisfied with their performance up to now?

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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