CANADIENS (20-6-5, 45 PTS) @ PENGUINS (25-8-0, 50 PTS)
Michel Therrien returns to Pittsburgh with the Montreal Canadiens in very comfortable position of being a top-4 seed in the Eastern Conference. Montreal enters tonight’s action second in the Eastern Conference with 45 points and are they the one Eastern Conference team that could cause the Penguins the most problems come playoff time?
The Canadiens are a good skating team that like the Flyers can get the Penguins into a track meet and they also have some grit and pests among the likes of Brandon Prust, Travis Moen where the Canadiens could frustrate the Penguins during a seven game series, similar to what Philadelphia has done to them in the past.
Montreal a well rounded team is fourth in the NHL in goals per game and sixth in goals against per game. Montreal has the goaltender in Carey Price where he could easily steal a series, making them a team you have to take serious in the East, although coaches, scouts widely consider Pittsburgh and Boston the top-2 true Cup Contenders in the East.
Montreal figures to add a piece or two before the trade deadline. They’ve been linked to Ryane Clowe, Jaromir Jagr and there’s some rumblings of a potential deal involving Daniel Briere being moved to Montreal.
*As the Penguins shoot for 13 straight, the Penguins haven’t won 13 in a row since a franchise-record 17 game winning streak from March 9-April 10, 1993.
*Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang are still regarded as day to day according to Dan Bylsma but the Penguins head coach did say “both are very close”. If any of the two were to play tonight, bet on it being Kris Letang.
*Marc Andre Fleury will start in goal
*Brenden Morrow will make his Penguin debut and skate on the second line with Dustin Jeffrey and James Neal.
*Douglas Murray did not participate in the morning skate and is currently en route to Pittsburgh. The Penguins expect him to play Thursday night.
*Matt Cooke did not participate in the morning skate but expectations are he will play. With Cooke not skating, Beau Bennett was the third line left winger with Brandon Sutter and Tyler Kennedy
*The top-3 Defensive pairs in the morning skate were: Brooks Orpik – Paul Martin, Mark Eaton – Matt Niskanen, Simon Despres – Deryk Engelland