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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pregame Preview: Canadiens vs Red Wings (Game #60)

montreal canadiens vs detroit red wings nhl 
Match Up:

The Canadiens (32-21-6) kick off the post-Olympic race to the playoffs when they host the Red Wings (26-20-12) Wednesday night at the Bell Centre. The puck drops at 7:30 and the game airs on RDS and TSN.

This is just the second of four meetings between these Original Six rivals. The Red Wings earned a convincing 4-1 win over the Canadiens last month when these teams met in Detroit. Gustav Nyquist, Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg each picked up a goal and an assist in the victory.

What to Watch:

Carey Price and PK Subban returned home from Sochi with a pair of Gold Medals to their credit. Price was named the tournament's best goaltender, posting shutouts in his last 2 games to help Canada achieve victory. Price has earned himself the night off against the Wings, so fellow Olympian Pater Budaj will get the start on Wednesday.

After coaching Team Canada to Olympic Gold, Mike Babcock returns to the Red Wings bench to try to maintain his team's playoff positioning. The Wings have the second and final wild card spot right now, but Washington, Ottawa and Columbus are each just one point back. To make his task that much more difficult, the Wings are suffering through some major injuries. After suffering a back injury during the Olympics, Henrik Zetterberg could miss the rest of the season, he underwent surgery on Friday.

What's at Stake:

The Canadiens return to action in the midst of a heated race for second place in the Atlantic division and home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. At 70 points, they're tied with the Maple Leafs for third spot, one point behind the Lightning. The Habs still have a game in hand on the Leafs, but they've played one more match than Tampa Bay.

Who's Out:

Alex Galchenyuk is expected to return to action Wednesday after recovering from a broken hand suffered in early January. Jarred Tinordi has been called up from Hamilton and could see action this week. Michael Bournival (concussion), Travis Moen (lower body) and Davis Drewiske (shoulder) are all out for the Habs.

The Wings are missing Henrik Zetterberg (back), Stephen Weiss (hernia), Jakub Kindl (knee) and Cody Emmerton (finger). Johan Franzen (concussion) and Pavel Datsyuk (knee) will both be game time decisions.

What Else:

After an extended break for many Canadiens the team has a grueling road ahead of them. The Habs will play 7 games over the next 11 nights and will play their final 23 games of the season in just 46 days. The Canadiens are not alone of course, as of Wednesday there are only 47 days left in the regular season. Just 7 teams have reached the 60 game mark so far. The Boston Bruins and St Louis Blues have the most games to make up between now and the end of the year, they each have 25 matches remaining.

The Question Mark:

We want to hear from you, how many points are you expecting the Habs to collect in their last 23 games?

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.

3 comments:

I can see the Habs finishing up around a .600 clip down the stretch. Something like a 13-7-3 to wrap up a spot roughly where they are in the standings right now. i think that's realistic. Not great, but good enough to get us into the playoffs.

600 sounds about par for the course, and 13-7-3 would add another 29 points, giving them 99 on the year. That's pretty respectable but will probably see them finish 3rd in the division, unless TB falls off.

I disagree guys. As much as I love my Habs, I can not see them have that high of a winning percentage for the remainder of the season. I think a more realistic total will be about .500 if things go well.

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