The Canadiens (30-21-6) wrap up their pre-olympic homestand Thursday night when they host the Canucks (27-22-9) at the Bell Centre. The game is set to start at 7:30 and can be seen on RDS and TSN-Habs.
This is the second and final meeting between these two teams. The Canadiens earned a convincing 4-1 win in Vancouver at the beginning of the season, scoring twice on the power play and once shorthanded. Lars Eller was credited with the game winner when Dan Hamhuis got the puck tied up in Roberto Luongo’s skates and it found it’s way into the net. Raphael Diaz had a pair of assists in the match.
What to Watch:
With the recent trade between these teams it will be interesting to keep an eye on the play of Dale Weise and Raphael Diaz. Weise had 3 shots and played 12:45 Tuesday night in his Habs debut, his fourth highest ice time of the season. Diaz scored Vancouver’s only goal in a 3-1 defeat against the Bruins on Tuesday.
The other match up to watch is the goalie duel between 2 of 3 three men fighting for the Team Canada starting goalie spot in Sochi, Carey Price and Roberto Luongo. Price currently has the edge on Luongo with a .923 save percentage to Luongo’s .919, but the Canucks goalie has a 2.32 goals against average, slightly edging Price’s 2.37. After a string of rough games, Price also has 2 shutouts and just 4 goals allowed in his last 4 games, while Luongo has given up 14 goals in his last 4.
What’s at Stake:
The Habs have two games left to play before the Olympic break and with just a 4-point cushion over playoff bubble teams like the Red Wings and Flyers, every point they earn now will help set them up for the race to the end of the season. The Canadiens are also tied with the Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic division, but still hold a game in hand.
The Canadiens are still missing Alex Galchenyuk (hand) until after the Olympics. Travis Moen (lower body) and Davis Drewiske (shoulder) are also questionable.
The Canucks are missing Kevin Bieksa (foot), Christopher Tanev (thumb), Andrew Alberts (head), Brad Richardson, Yannick Weber, and Mike Santorelli (shoulder). Dan Hamhuis and Chris Higgins are also questionable for Vancouver.
In three seasons with the Canadiens, Raphael Diaz played 128 games and had 4 goals and 37 assists. At the time of the trade, Diaz hadn’t scored a goal yet this season, but he potted one in his first game with the Canucks. Diaz has yet to pick up a point during the playoffs, he played 5 postseason games last year and finished the series against the Senators with a -4 rating. This season, the Swiss defenseman had yet to pick up a goal before scoring in his first game with the Canucks. Diaz will be taking part in his second Olympics, he’ll join former Canadien and current Canuck, Yannick Weber, on the Swiss blueline.
The Question Mark:
What was your first impression of Dale Weise and are you expecting him to sign with the Habs this Summer?
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.