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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Pregame Preview: Canadiens at Sharks (Game #66)

montreal canadiens vs san jose sharks 
Match Up:

The Canadiens (35-23-7) wrap up their West Coast road trip Saturday night against the Sharks (40-17-7) in San Jose. The game starts at 10:00 pm and airs on RDS and CBC.

This is the second and final meeting between the Habs and Sharks. San Jose earned a 2-0 shutout win at the Bell Centre in October. Logan Couture scored both goals for the Sharks and Patrick Marleau picked up a pair of assists. Anti Niemi made 22 saves, while Carey Price made 35 in the losing effort.

What to Watch:

Thomas Vanek has played one game as a Hab and has yet to earn his first point with the team. He joined the Canadiens Thursday after a long night of travel and with no scheduled practice, the first chance he got to skate with his new teammates was during the game against the Coyotes. Vanek lined up with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta and is expected to stay with those linemates on Saturday.

Joe Pavelski is having a career year in his eighth season as a Shark. Pavelski has already reached a new career high in goals with 32 on the season, and after adding 3 assist against the Penguins Thursday, he's just 4 points shy of his career high, 66. Joe Thornton meanwhile is second in the league in assists with 52. Jumbo Joe has a goal and 4 assists in 5 games since the Olympic break ended.

What's at Stake:

The Canadiens are holding down third spot in the East but they've also played more games than any team in the Conference besides the Islanders. The Leafs and Lightning are hot on the Habs' heels while the Flyers, Red Wings and Rangers aren't very far behind either.

Who's Out:

The Canadiens will be in tough against one of the league's best offenses, they're still missing Carey Price (lower body) and Josh Gorges (hand). Brandon Prust (upper body) and Michael Bournival (concussion) are also out.

The Sharks are without star rookie Tomas Hertl (knee), while Brad Stuart (upper body) has been out since the Olympics and may also miss Saturday's game.

What Else:
With 16 starts and 19 games played this season, Peter Budaj has seen the most action this year since he split starting goalie duties with Craig Anderson in Colorado during the 2010-11 season. While his won/loss ratio isn't as impressive as the 8-1-1 record he posted last season, Budaj has still maintained a respectable .911 save percentage and 2.35 GAA.
The Question Mark:
After Saturday's game the Canadiens will have finished up their toughest stretch stretch of the season and return home with just 16 games left to play. What we want to know from you is: in what place will the Habs will finish the season?
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 expect a better showing from Thomas Vanek tonight, having played a game and practiced with his new team. He had some chances last game and i think he buries one tonight. Habs can match the firepower, but San Jose is tough at home. I'd give us a better chance if Price was in goal, but if we can force OT I'd consider that a win in itself.

Habs will fins that West coast teams are simply in a better league then they are..Also, Price plays in Sochi, we need him back for the playoff push, why the delay returning?? HIO has an article saying he was seen in a Club with friends, so how bad off can he be, and Prust and Bournival , whats Their excuse.

Where is Carey Price when we need him, and Prust sucks this season, a waste.

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