Saturday, February 8, 2014

Pregame Preview: Canadiens at Hurricanes (Game #59)

montreal canadiens vs carolina hurricanes nhl match-up
Match Up:

The Canadiens (31-21-6) are in Carolina Saturday night to face the Hurricanes(25-21-9) before taking the next two and a half weeks off for the Olympic break. The game starts early at 6:00 pm and can be seen on CBC and RDS.

This is the third and final meeting between the Habs and Canes this season. The Canadiens have collected 3 of 4 points so far against Carolina, but when these teams met on New Year's Eve, the Hurricanes scored 4 straight goals to nullify a 3-0 third period and put the Habs on their heels late in the game. PK Subban eventually drew the two teams even again but Alexander Semin's overtime goal sealed the victory for Carolina.

What to Watch:

Ryan White has played two games since returning from injury and was named a Star in each contest. White was the Third Star in Tuesday's contest against the Flames and again on Thursday versus the Canucks, when he scored his first goal of the season. Max Pacioretty scored his second Hat Trick of the season against Vancouver, the third in his career. Pacioretty leads the team with 26 goals on the season.

Cam Ward's last start was the New Year's Eve match up against the Habs. Since then, Anton Khudobin has played all 16 games for Carolina going 11-5-0 and posting a .930 save percentage while Ward was sidelined with a lower body injury. Cam Ward has returned to the line-up recently but that hasn't stopped coach Kirk Muller from going with Khodobin

What's at Stake:

What a difference a couple of wins (or losses) can make. The Canadiens are back within striking distance of the Lightning for second place in the Atlantic division heading into Saturday's game. The Habs are just 1 point back of the Bolts, but Tampa Bay holds a game in hand. Montreal has also padded the lead over some of the playoff bubble teams, but the Maple Leafs are still tied with the Habs, though the Leafs have played one more game.

Who's Out:

Michael Bournival (head) did not travel with the Canadiens to Carolina, he was forced out of Thursday's game after getting hit hard in the face by Dale Weise's stick. Alex Galchenyuk (hand) and Travis Moen (lower body) are also out.

The Hurricanes could be without John-Michael Liles (lower body) but are otherwise healthy.

What Else:

The Olympics have already started and NHL players representing their countries are set to join Zdeno Chara in Sochi after Saturday's action. Chara was the flag bearer for Slovakia during the opening ceremonies Friday, countryman Peter Budaj is one of seven Canadiens taking part in the Games. Carey Price and PK Subban representing Canada, Max Pacioretty for Team USA, Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin playing for the host nation, and Tomas Plekanec set to wear the 'C' for the Czech Republic, there could be as many as five medals coming back to the Canadiens locker room at the end of the month.

The Question Mark:

Are you worried about certain Habs risking injury or burning themselves out by playing in the Olympics?

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.


Hope to see another closely played game between these two teams, going down to the wire.

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