montreal canadiens vs columbus blue jackets nhl

Match Up:

The Canadiens (9-8-2) are in Columbus Friday night to take on the struggling Blue Jackets (6-10-2). The game is set to start at 7:00 and airs on RDS,

This is the second of three matches between the Habs and Jackets this season. Earlier in the year, Tomas Plekanec broke a third period tie with just over a minute to play and then added an empty-netter to secure a 5-3 win for the Habs.

What to Watch:

Carey Price stopped 44 of 45 pucks through regulation and overtime Tuesday against the Lightning. The performance was good enough to earn him the First Star from but not enough to earn a victory as the Habs lost 2-1 in the shootout. But Price won’t be starting on Friday, with the Habs playing back-to-back games, Peter Budaj gets the nod against Columbus, while Price will start on Saturday. That’s not necessarily good news for the Jackets, Budaj has allowed just 4 goals in 3 games this year.

Brandon Dubinsky leads the Jackets in scoring with 15 points. His 4-game point streak came to an end on Thursday but Dubinsky had put up 2 goals and 5 assists in that span. Former Hab James Wisnieski is on paces for a career year. With 14 points in 18 games, he’s already matched his point totals from last season and is well on pace to top 30 points – his career high.

What’s at Stake:

The Habs continue to slip farther away from the Atlantic division leaders. The Bruins are five points ahead of the Canadiens after beating the Blue Jacket in overtime Thursday night. The Canadiens will want to take advantage of a worn down Columbus team to keep pace with the herd.

Who’s Out:

Apart from Davis Drewiske (shoulder) the Canadiens are almost back to clean health with Alexei Emelin and Brandon Prust set to return on Friday.

The Blue Jackets are still missing Nathan Horton (shoulder) along with Boone Jenner (leg) and Matt Calvert (abdomen)

What Else:

With just 20 points in 19 games, the Canadiens aren’t off to the same hot start they managed last season. In their lockout-shortened 2012-2013 campaign, the Habs had 12 wins and 27 points through 19 matches to keep them near the top of the Eastern Conference. There’s still over 75% of the season left to play, but so far the Canadiens are performing like a playoff bubble team, not a team capable of winning their division.

The Question Mark:

With Brandon Prust ready to return to the Habs lineup, how should the forward lines shape up?

Let us know what you think, leave a comment below or send us a tweet using the #MTLHockey hashtag.

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.