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Monday, January 6, 2014

Pregame Preview: Canadiens vs Panthers (Game #44)

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Match Up:

The Canadiens (24-14-5) play host to the pesky Florida Panthers (16-20-6) Monday night. The game starts at 7:30 and can be seen on RDS and TSN-Habs.

This is the third of four meetings between the Habs and Panthers this season, the Canadiens are still looking for their first win against Florida. Scott Clemmensen has played nets for the Panthers in both games this season, giving up just one goal in each start and stopped 48 of 50 shots in both games combined.

What to Watch:

Daniel Briere spent the beginning of 2014 in the press box as a healthy scratch, but when he came back to play Saturday night, he factored in all 3 Montreal goals, scoring 2 and assisting on the third. The line of Briere with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta combined for 3 goals and 6 points. For Gionta and Plekanec, they each broke out of 4-game scoring droughts against the Sens.

For the Panthers, rookie Aleksander Barkov has a goal and 5 assists in his last 5 games, bringing him up to 21 points on the year to lead the Cats. Brad Boyes has 2 goals and 3 assists in his last 3 games, he's up to 19 points in his first season with the Panthers.

What's at Stake:

The Habs haven't beaten the Panthers yet this season and there's no time like the present. While the Canadiens earned points in each of their last 3 games, they can't be satisfied with the pair of OT losses to the Hurricanes and Senators last week. A pair of missed opportunities that have the Habs sitting in fourth place in the East, a point behind the Lightning.

Who's Out:

The Habs are missing Davis Drewiske (shoulder), while George Parros (concussion) and Ryan White (upper body) are day-to-day.

Ed Jovanovski played his first game this season last Saturday, but Erik Gudbranson (orbital bone), Dylan Olsen (lower body), Jesse Winchester (hand) and Alex Petrovic (upper body) were still sidelined. Gudbranson traveled with the Panthers to Montreal and could play Monday night.

What Else:

The Canadiens only managed one win in their past 3 games but they piled up 13 goals over that span. The team scored the same amount in their previous 9 games, starting with a 6-0 loss against the Kings. Max Pacioretty led the way last week with 4 goals and a pair of assists. His 4-point night in Dallas Thursday earned him a nod as NHL.com's second star of the night.

The Question Mark:

During the past week, have you been more encouraged by the increased offense the Habs have put up or discouraged by their shaky defense and slack discipline?

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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