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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Pregame Preview: Canadiens at Blackhawks (Game #80)

montreal canadiens vs chicago blackhawks nhl 
Match Up:

The Canadiens (45-27-7) are in Chicago Wednesday to visit the defending champion Blackhawks (45-19-5) in Montreal's final road game of the season. The game starts at 7:30 and airs on RDS and TSN.

This is the second and final game between the Habs and Hawks this season, Montreal earned a 2-1 OT win in the first match. Andrei Markov scored both goals for the Habs the first time these teams met and Carey Price made 19 save for the win as the Canadiens held the Hawks to just 20 shots in the game.

What to Watch:

Max Pacioretty was named the NHL's Third Star last week after putting up 4 goals and 6 points, 5 of them in the Habs' 7-4 win over the Sens. 9 of Pacioretty's 39 goals on the season have come in his last 8 games. PK Subban has been held under 20 minutes of ice time in his last 3 games, and has been held pointless in each of them.

With Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on the sidelines, Patrick Sharp will likely finish the season as Chicago's leading scorer. Sharp has 33 goals and 43 assists for a career high 76 point on the year. With 60 points and a +21 rating, Duncan Keith is making a strong case for Norris Trophy consideration, although with 3 assists in his last 6 games, Keith has cooled off a bit as the season winds down.

What's at Stake:

The Canadiens are 4 points away from home ice advantage through the first round with 3 games to play. With back-to-back games coming up, and a Lightning game against the Flyers on Thursday, the Canadiens have multiple scenarios that would see them clinch.

Who's Out:

A couple of healthy Canadiens won't be making the trip to Chicago with the team, including the defensive pair of Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin. Carey Price has the night off as well, while Brandon Prust (upper body) and Travis Moen (concussion) are also out. Josh Gorges will return to action Wednesday and Dale Weise (wrist) may be ready to play as well.

The Blackhawks are missing arguably their two best players for Wednesday's game. Jonathan Toews (upper body) and Patrick Kane (lower body) are both out, as is backup goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (rotator cuff).

What Else:

With Markov missing Wednesday's game, his streak of 137 straight regular season games played will come to an end. PK Subban is the only other Hab this season to play all 79 games so far, his Ironman streak is up to 131 consecutive games played.

The Question Mark:

Who are your Little Bear and Doghouse Habs players for the season?

Let us know what you think, leave us a comment or send us a tweet with 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.

2 comments:

Little Bear for the season: Brian Gionta. Captain is no longer a 30 goal man, but his two-way play has been exceptional this season and his penalty killing phenominal. He has been very clutch with late goals at key times and while he's not a rah-rah leader, he certainly brings valuable playoff experience with him.

Doghouse: As always has been and will be: Rene Bourque. Enough said.

Tonight, Habs are mailing in this one to focus on the weekend. Allowing key vets to not make a road trip and rest up is good. With that said, there is no reason why the roster we are sending can't win this one. I expect to see Beaulieu and Tinordi play some big minutes tonight. I hope.

Haha, ya Nick, I think Bourque owns the Doghouse this season. Gio is a pretty good pick for the Little Bear, not my choice but he's definitely a candidate.

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