The Carolina Hurricanes, (15-13-4), are back home for a quick two game home stand over the Christmas holiday and their first opponent will be the Montreal Canadiens, (19-13-2), as two teams needing a win meet tonight at the RBC.
The Canes had a four game winning streak snapped when they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1, on Monday night. They are 5-3-2 over their last 10 games. The Habs have lost two games in a row, (their first two on this current road trip), and four of their last five. They are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games.
Montreal is in first place in the Northeast Division with 40 points while Carolina is fourth in the much improved Southeast Division and currently sits four points out of a playoff spot. This one is important because even though it's early, the team can not afford to drop too far behind the competition.
Cam Ward, who had to sit out the last game because of a rash on his face, will be starting tonight for the home team. Carey Price, a much maligned goalie in the past who has found his "A" game so far this season, will be in net for Montreal.
|2010 - Cam Ward||27||1533||14||9||65||2.54||884||819||.926||1|
|2010 - Carey Price||31||1860||18||11||69||2.23||922||853||.925||4|
The last time these two teams met, the Habs skated away with a 7-2 win up at the Bell Centre on November 13.
As always, there is a ton of information available about the Habs. I've recently been reading Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette and his latest article has some quotes from Montreal coach Jacques Martin.
Also check out Habs Inside/Out, the fine blog put out by the paper. They are reporting that highly regarded rookie and one time Calder favorite, PK Subban will be a healthy scratch tonight. Benoit Pouliot will also be scratched. The Montreal lines should look as follows:
- Lars Eller, Tom Pyatt, Travis Moen
- Jeff Halpern, Maxim Lapierre, Mathieu Darche
- Andrei Kostitsyn, Tomas Plekanec, Mike Cammalleri
- Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, Max Pacioretty
It looks like the defense will consist of Gill, Spacek, Weber, Gorges, Hamrlik, and former Hurricane Alexandre Picard. Andrei Markov is still out because of an injury sustained after a collision with Eric Staal the last time these teams met. He might be out for the rest of the season.
The Hurricanes will be starting out with the same lines that went the distance in Tampa Bay.
- Staal, Cole, Skinner
- Sutter, Ruutu, Jokinen
- Dwyer, Samsonov, LaRose
- Carter, Boychuk, Dwyer
- Gleason, Corvo
- Pitkanen, McBain
- Harrison, White
Hockeymom has her Game Day Guide updated and ready to go:
Keep an eye out for Erik Cole, he's been known to have huge games against the Habs. Eric Staal also does well and has 29 career points in 24 games against this team.
Of course, Cam Ward has literally owned the Canadiens at times and has an 11-4-2 career record against them.
This game will be on local television, (FS Carolinas) and coverage starts at 7. I will be reporting from press row on the open game thread starting at 6:30.