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#MTLHockey Preview

Match Up

The Canadiens (30-13-3) are in New York to face the Rangers (27-14-4) Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. The game starts at 7:00 and airs on RDS and Sportsnet East.

This is the third and final meeting between the Habs and Rangers this year. The Original Six rivals have split their two prior matches, with each team winning on home ice. Martin St. Louis had a goal and an assist the last time these teams met and Henrik Lundqvist posted 21 saves en route to a 5-0 shut out.

What to Watch

The Canadiens seem to have found their way with the man advantage after struggling for most of the season. The Habs have power play goals in four of their last five games, going 8-for-23 over that span. And if the power play is working, you can bet that so is Andrei Markov. The General leads the Canadiens with 15 power play points on the season. Markov has seven assists in his last five games.

After facing Tyler Seguin and the Stars on Tuesday, the Canadiens will need to deal with another elite scorer in Rick Nash when they play the Rangers on Thursday. Nash is second in the league in goals with 28 on the year, he’s on pace to handily beat his career high of 41 goals.

What’s at Stake

While the Habs still lead the Atlantic division in terms of points percentage, they’re also still trailing the Lightning and Red Wings in actual points. The Wings have won six straight games to lay claim to top spot in the division, but they lead the Habs by just two points in the standings, with the Canadiens holding two games in hand.

Who’s Out

P.A. Parenteau (concussion) is still out for the Canadiens and they’ve called up AHL standout Gabriel Dumont to fill in as a 13th forward. Dumont has played 15 career games with the Habs, but hasn’t played with the big club yet this season.

The Rangers may be without Mats Zuccarello on Thursday, he missed Wednesday’s practice due to illness.

What Else

The Carey Price for Hart talk is heating up at the midway point, and for good reason. No less than four articles came out this week suggesting Price as a serious Hart candidate, from The Globe and Mail, The Hockey News, Puck Daddy, and Habs Eyes on the Prize. While Price is not quite a runaway Vezina lock at this point, there’s no doubt he’ll be a nominee if his recent play continues.

Price heads into Thursday’s action with a 25-10-2 record, a .929 save percentage and a 2.15 GAA, some of the best numbers he’s posted in his career.

The Question Mark

The Canadiens have just traded for the best possible player on the market to meet their needs, who did they get?

Tonight’s Show

Join host Steven Hindle along with Kosta Papoulias and Rob Elbaz for the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show as we go live at 6:00 to preview the Canadiens and the Rangers.

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#MTLHockey Preview

HabsStars

Match Up

The Canadiens (29-13-3) return to action Tuesday night after the All Star break, playing host to the Stars (21-18-7). The game is set to start at 7:30 and airs on RDS and Sportsnet East.

This is the second and final game between the Habs and Stars this season, and the only one in Montreal. The last time these teams met, Dallas skated away with an easy 4-1 victory on home ice. Tyler Seguin had a pair of goals and an assist in the win.

What to Watch

Carey Price and Jiri Sekac return from their All-Star experiences in Columbus and the rest of the Canadiens return from their extended breaks looking to pick up where they left off. The last time the Habs played, Max Pacioretty was held pointless in a 2-1 overtime victory against the Predators, ending his seven game point streak. PK Subban and Alex Galchenyuk each had a goal and an assist in the win over Nashville.

Averaging over three goals per game, the Stars have the league’s fourth ranked offense, led by the NHL’s top goal-scorer, Tyler Seguin. Seguin is second overall in points with 52, 12 points more than the Stars’ next most productive player, Jamie Benn, who currently has 40 points, including 13 goals.

What’s at Stake

While the Canadiens are third in points in the Atlantic division, they still hold a lead over the Lightning and Red Wings in terms of points percentage. The Habs are locked into a close race for top spot in the division that’s likely to last the rest of the season, so every point matters.

Who’s Out

A week off is usually enough to cure what ails you, but P.A. Parenteau (concussion) is still not ready to play on Tuesday. Aside from that, the Habs are healthy as their schedule is about to kick into overdrive.

The Stars will see lots of players returning to action on Tuesday, but former Hab Erik Cole (upper body) is not one of them, he’s expected to miss the match. Valeri Nichushkin (hip) is also missing, his November hip surgery has kept him out of the lineup for most of the season.

What Else

For the Habs a long break translates into a cramped schedule in their next stretch of the season. With only 45 games played to this point, only the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers have played less than the Canadiens this season. To compensate, the Habs will play 28 games between January 27 and March 21, a span of 54 days.

The Question Mark

How much of the All-Star Weekend did you watch and what was your favorite moment?

Tonight’s Show

Join host Steven Hindle along with Kosta Papoulias and Rob Elbaz for the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show as we go live at 6:30 to preview the Canadiens and the Stars.

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#MTLHockey Preview

montreal canadiens vs nashville predators

Match Up

After beating the best team in the East on Saturday, the Canadiens (28-13-3) play host to the Central division leading Predators (30-10-4). The game is set to start at 7:30 and airs on RDS and Sportsnet East.

This is the first of two meetings between the Habs and Preds this season, and the only one in Montreal. Last year these team played a pair of tight games, with the Habs losing the first 2-1 on a late goal by Seth Jones and winning the second 4-3 in overtime thanks to a fantastic individual effort from David Desharnais.

What to Watch

Tomas Plekanec had a career night on Saturday with two goals and two assists in Montreal’s 6-4 win over the Islanders. Plekanec was playing his third straight game on a line with Max Pacioretty, who picked up a pair of assists of his own on Saturday. Pacioretty’s six-game goal streak came to an end last game, but his current seven-game point streak is still intact.

Not only has Filip Forsberg been one of the biggest stories for the Predators this season, he’s been a big story in the NHL as the current front-runner for rookie of the year. Forsberg has 39 points in 43 games and a third best +23 rating on the season.

What’s at Stake

After beating the Islanders on Saturday, the Canadiens get another chance to prove they deserve to be considered among the league’s elite by taking on the NHL’s best team in terms of points percentage. The Predators have earned 72.7% of their possible points this season to lead all teams, but the Habs are hot on their heels at 67.0%, good for fifth overall.

Who’s Out

All signs point to a return to action for Carey Price, who wasn’t dressed for Saturday’s game. P.A. Parenteau (concussion) is expected to miss Tuesday’s game as symptoms of the concussion he suffered against the Devils earlier in the month have returned.

While Price may be ready to return on Tuesday, Preds netminder Pekka Rinne (knee) won’t be back for at least the next few weeks. Eric Nystrom (upper body) and Ryan Ellis (lower body) are also out.

What Else

This is the last game before the Habs break for the upcoming All-Star Game this weekend. When they return to action, the Canadiens will play a stretch of 21 games in 40 days from January 27 to March 7.

The Question Mark

Last game we asked which Hab needs to step up in the second half of the season, this time we want to know which Hab has most surpassed your expectations so far this season.

Tonight’s Show

Join host Steven Hindle along with Kosta Papoulias and Rob Elbaz for the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show as we go live at 6:30 to preview the Canadiens and the Predators.

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#MTLHockey Preview

Match Up

The Canadiens (27-13-3) return home to host the Islanders (30-13-3) Saturday night at the Bell Centre. The game starts at 7:00 and airs on TVA and Sportsnet.

This is the second of three meetings between the Habs and Isles this season, and the only game they’ll play in Montreal. The Canadiens beat the Islanders 3-1, thanks in large part to a 37-save performance from Carey Price. The Canadiens were out-shot 38-21 in that game, and 14-3 in the first period alone.

What to Watch

Max Pacioretty has scored seven goals in his last six games. There are only five Canadiens that have more than seven goals all season. Pacioretty is now seventh in the league in goals, and with 158 shots on the season, he’s up to fifth in the league in that department.

The Islanders are coming off a 6-3 victory over the Penguins on Friday. Kyle Okposo tallied four goals in the victory including three straight in the third period to put Isles ahead for good in that game. The team’s captain and leading scorer, John Tavares, had three assists Friday, giving him 42 points in 44 games this season.

What’s at Stake

Saturday night, the Habs have a chance to prove themselves against the best team in the East (it’s still hard to get used to that). The Isles are four points ahead of the Habs with the Canadiens holding a game in hand. There’s still a lot of hockey left to play this season, but a win on Saturday will give Montreal a big boost heading into next week’s All-Star break.

Who’s Out

Carey Price is day-to-day with an upper body injury, most likely suffered when Pacioretty shoved Matt Calvert into him during Montreal’s 3-2 win over Columbus on Wednesday. The injury likely isn’t serious and Price will probably be back in action soon so there’s no reason for Habs fans to panic, but don’t let that stop you.

The Islanders are without Mikhail Grabovski (lower body), Lubomir Visnovsky (upper body), and Matt Carkner (back).

What Else

The Canadiens are still trying to find their groove in 2015. After wrapping up last year on a 7-1-0 run, they’ve been less successful in the new year, going 3-2-1 so far this month, and 1-2-1 in their last four games. With the Detroit Red Wings catching the Habs in the standings, and teams like the Bruins, Capitals and Rangers hot on their heels, the team will need to pick up their play to defend their spot in the conference.

The Question Mark

With Carey Price and Max Pacioretty leading the charge recently for Montreal, who else needs to improve their recent play the most to help the Habs to victory?

Tonight’s Show

Join host Steven Hindle along with Kosta Papoulias and Rob Elbaz for the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show as we go live at 6:00 to preview the Canadiens and the Islanders.

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#MTLHockey Preview

Match Up

The Canadiens (27-12-3) are in Ottawa to face the Senators (17-17-8) Thursday night. The game starts at 7:30 and airs on RDS and Sportsnet East.

This is the second of five meetings between the Habs and Sens this season, and the first of two in Ottawa. The Canadiens won the first meeting this season 4-1. Alex Galchenyuk had a goal and an assist, and Max Pacioretty had a pair of assists in the victory.

What to Watch

The Canadiens power play returned with a vengeance Wednesday against the Blue Jackets, converting three of their seven opportunities. Max Pacioretty scored twice and PK Subban potted his fourth power play goal of the season to help the Habs overcome a 2-0 third period deficit en route to their 3-2 victory.

Mike Hoffman has been the biggest pleasant surprise for the Senators this season, he leads the team with 15 goals and a +18 rating. Bobby Ryan leads the Sens with 30 points on the year, he’ll be the team’s only representative in next week’s All-Star Game.

What’s at Stake

The Canadiens are back within striking distance of top spot in the Eastern Conference, sitting one point back of the Lightning and Penguins, and two points back of the Islanders. While the Senators may be division rivals, their .500 record has them 15 points back of the Habs at the midway point, so it’s safe to say this isn’t a four-point game for the Canadiens.

Who’s Out

The Canadiens are healthy again heading into Thursday’s action, despite a scare to Carey Price in Wednesday’s game. Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert was sent barreling into Price at the end of the first period, but Price stayed in net to finish the game. Still with matches on back-to-back nights, expect Dustin Tokarski to get the call in Ottawa.

The Senators are missing noted tough guy Chris Neil (knee), along with Zack Smith (wrist) and Mark Borowiecki (leg).

What Else

The Canadiens have won six straight on the road heading into Ottawa on Thursday. Their 14-7-1 record on the road is among the best in the NHL, behind only the Islanders in terms of road wins and points. In fact, with 29 points on the road, the Canadiens have earned as many points away from the Bell Centre as the Oilers have collected so far this season!

The Question Mark

What was your first impression of the Plekanec, Pacioretty, Gallagher line?

Tonight’s Show

Join host Steven Hindle along with Kosta Papoulias and Corey Collard for the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show as we go live at 6:00 to preview the Canadiens and the Blue Jackets.

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#MTLHockey Preview

montreal canadiens vs columbus blue jackets nhlMatch Up

The Canadiens (26-12-3) are in Columbus Wednesday night to face the Blue Jackets (18-19-3). The game is set to start at 7:00 and airs on RDS and Sportsnet.

This is the first of three meetings between the Habs and Jackets, and the first of two in Columbus. Last season the Canadiens won two of their three games against the Blue Jackets, including a 3-2 shootout victory in Columbus. The Habs erased a two-goal deficit and David Desharnais scored the only goal in the shootout to seal the victory.

What to Watch

It looks like the Canadiens will try a new look on the man advantage in Columbus, as coach Michel Therrien looks to spark the fourth worst power play in the league. In their last seven games, the Habs have scored just once in 21 opportunities.

Look for PK Subban to play the point on the first unit with Desharnais, P.A. Parenteau, Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher up front, while the second unit should consist of Andrei Markov, Sergei Gonchar, Tomas Plekanec, Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk.

Injuries have taken their toll on the Blue Jackets this season, but Nick Foligno and Ryan Johansen have managed to stay healthy and lead the way this year. Foligno has 40 points in 39 games including 10 points in his last seven. Johansen is right behind him for the team lead with 39 points on the year, he’s in the midst of a 10-game point streak.

What’s at Stake

Although they earned a point Saturday night against the Penguins, the Habs lost their second consecutive game for the first time since the first week of December. The losing streak hasn’t hurt the Canadiens too badly yet, they’re still the top team in the Atlantic in terms of point percentage, but they still trail the Lightning by three points heading into Wednesday’s action.

Who’s Out

With Parenteau set to return, the Habs are healthy again. The only other change to the lineup could be on defense, where Mike Weaver might play Wednesday in place of the struggling Alexei Emelin.

The Blue Jackets have been without Nathan Horton (back) all season. Ryan Murray (knee) has also missed most of the year, but he has started to practice again. Artem Anisimov (triceps), Brian Gibbons (knee), Boone Jenner (back) and Jack Skille (lower body) are also out.

What Else

In just over a week, Columbus will play host to this year’s NHL All -Star Game. Only Carey Price was named to the All-Star team from the Canadiens, although Jiri Sekac was selected to take part in the rookie skills competition, filling in for an injured Tanner Pearson. Despite an impressive first half of the season, PK Subban was not named an All-Star this year, although there is a chance he’ll be called to fill in for the injured Victor Hedman.

The Question Mark

We want to hear from you, express your outrage at the fact that PK wasn’t selected as an All-Star this season.

Tonight’s Show

Join host Steven Hindle along with Kosta Papoulias and Rob Elbaz for the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show as we go live at 6:00 to preview the Canadiens and the Blue Jackets.

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#MTLHockey Preview

Match Up

The Canadiens (26-12-2) wrap up the first half of the season Saturday night when they host the Penguins (24-10-6). The game starts at 7:00 and will be broadcast on TVA and CBC.

This is the third and final game this season between the Habs and Pens, they’ve played a game each in their home building already this season. After losing 4-0 in Montreal, the Habs got a measure of revenge last week when they beat the Penguins 4-1 in Pittsburgh. Max Pacioretty and Tom Gilbert each had a goal and an assist in that game.

What to Watch

Carey Price had an off night Tuesday against the Lightning, allowing four goals on 16 second period shots, but the Habs netminder is having a career year this season. With 22 wins in 33 games, a 2.20 goals against average and a .927 save percentage, Price is on pace to match or set personal records in each of those categories.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are always players to watch when the Penguins come to town. The duo has 88 points between them, 45 for Malkin and 43 for Crosby, that’s more than the top three scorers combined for the Canadiens (Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk and PK Subban combine for 86 points so far).

What’s at Stake

The Habs and Pens are both chasing top spot in their division after falling behind the Lightning and the Islanders respectively. The Canadiens are four points behind the Bolts with three games in hand while the Penguins trail the Isles by a single point and have played one game less.

Who’s Out

P.A. Parenteau (head) is skating on his own, but doesn’t appear ready to rejoin the team yet. Special mention as well to Jarred Tinordi who was injured in a fight Friday night while playing with the Hamilton Bulldogs.

The Pens are missing Patric Hornqvist (lower body), Olli Maata (upper body), Blake Comeau (wrist) and Pascal Dupuis (blood clot).

What Else

Not only did Montreal’s seven game win streak come to an end Tuesday night against the Lightning, their perfect streak of wins after scoring first was broken as well. The Habs went into Tuesday’s game with a perfect 16-0-0 record when scoring the first goal, but after they opened the scoring, four straight goals from the Lightning ended that streak.

The Question Mark

What are your thoughts on fighting in professional hockey and do the Habs need more muscle in their lineup?

Tonight’s Show

Join host Steven Hindle along with Kosta Papoulias and Rob Elbaz for the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show as we go live at 6:00 to preview the Canadiens and the Penguins.

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#MTLHockey Preview

Match Up

The Canadiens (26-11-2) return home triumphant after a perfect five-game road trip to play host to the Lightning (25-12-4) Tuesday night. The game starts at 7:30 and airs on RDS and Sportsnet East.

This is the second of five meetings between the Habs and Bolts, and the first of three in Montreal. Carey Price gave up four goals on 23 shots through two periods of play before being pulled for Dustin Tokarski who gave up another three in what was ultimately a 7-1 loss. Steven Stamkos scored a hat trick and Victor Hedman picked up a goal and three assists in the game.

What to Watch

Max Pacioretty and Tom Gilbert each had a goal and an assist on Saturday in Montreal’s 4-1 victory over the Penguins. Gilbert finished the night with a +4 rating.

The Lightning have found offense from more than just Stamkos this season, in fact, with 43 points in 40 games, Tyler Johnson is the team’s leading scorer. Johnson has two goals and four assists in the last three games and now sits fourth overall in league scoring as well as first in plus/minus at +26.

What’s at Stake

First place in the Eastern Conference is on the line Tuesday night in Montreal, with the winner guaranteed to control top spot. The Habs and Bolts each have 54 points heading into the match, one ahead of the Penguins and Islanders, although the Lightning have played two more games than the other three teams.

Who’s Out

P.A. Parenteau (undisclosed/head) will not be ready to play Tuesday, he’ll miss a second straight game. Bryan Allen also likely won’t be available to play against the Lightning, he was placed on waivers Monday afternoon and is expected to join the Hamilton Bulldogs if he is not claimed.

The Bolts are missing Rakdo Gudas (knee), who is scheduled for surgery and is expected to miss a fair bit of action.

What Else

Carey Price is once again the Molson Cup winner for December as the team’s player of the month, he was also named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week for his 3-0-0 performance. Price is the only Hab to earn the Molson Cup this season, taking home the honor in October and November as well, he’s also won the overall Molson Cup as the team’s MVP for the season five times in his career, including the last four seasons.

The Question Mark

Do the Canadiens need to add any specific pieces do be considered a true Cup contender this season or are they already there?

Tonight’s Show

Join host Steven Hindle along with Kosta Papoulias and Rob Elbaz for the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show as we go live at 6:30 to preview the Canadiens and Lightning.

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#MTLHockey Preview

Canadiens Vs Penguins

Match Up

The red-hot Canadiens (25-11-2) are in Pittsburgh on Saturday to close out their five game road trip against the Penguins (24-9-5). The game starts at 7:00 and airs on TVA and City.

This is the second of three meetings between the Habs and Pens this season, and the only one in Pittsburgh. The season series wraps up in Montreal next Saturday. Beau Bennett had a goal and two assists and Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves to power the Pens to a 4-0 shut out victory over the Canadiens the last time these teams met.

What to Watch

Michael Bournival had to wait until the 38th game on the Habs schedule (his eighth of the season) to score his first goal of the year, but didn’t wait nearly as long to pot his second, earning his first career multi-goal game in the NHL on Friday despite playing less than 10 minutes.

PK Subban had three assists on Friday, inching him closer to Max Pacioretty for the points lead in Montreal. Pacioretty is still on top with 29, but Subban is right behind him with 26 points in 38 games.

Sidney Crosby earned four assists in Pittsburgh’s 6-3 win over the Lightning on Friday giving him 42 points in 35 games on the season. New acquisition David Perron should be in uniform Saturday night for the Pens. Perron had five goals and 19 points in 38 games for the Oilers this season.

What’s at Stake

With their win in New Jersey on Friday, the Canadiens moved into a tie with the Tampa Bay Lightning for top spot in the Atlantic Division. Now they have a chance to leapfrog the Penguins for top spot in the conference. A win in Pittsburgh would also give the Habs a perfect road trip, extend their winning streak to six games and keep them undefeated in 2015. No pressure.

Who’s Out

P.A. Parenteau was knocked out of Friday’s game in New Jersey when he took a hit to the head from Tim Sestito, and may not be ready to play on Saturday.

The Penguins currently have seven players on injured reserve: Blake Comeau (wrist), Pascal Dupuis (blood clot), Patric Hornqvist (lower body), Olli Maatta (upper body), Paul Martin, Zach Sill (upper body), and Scott Wilson.

What Else

The Habs are in the midst of a five-game win streak, the longest current streak in the NHL. What’s more impressive is that the Habs have won four of those five on the road, with a chance to close out a perfect road trip by beating the Eastern-leading Penguins. With an 8-1-0 record in their last nine games, the Habs have surged up the standings after a rough start in December, moving them into a tie for fifth place with the Chicago Blackhawks for the best points percentage in the league.

The Question Mark

The Canadiens have plenty of options on defense but Michel Therrien has had trouble pleasing Habs fans recently. How would you set up the Montreal’s three defensive pairings with what the Habs have available?

Tonight’s Show

Join host Steven Hindle along with Kosta Papoulias and Rob Elbaz for the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show as we go live at 6:00 to preview the Canadiens and the Penguins.

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#MTLHockey Preview

montreal canadiens vs new jersey devils nhlMatch Up

The Canadiens (24-11-2) are in New Jersey to start the New Year against the Devils (13-19-7) Friday night. The game starts at 7:00 and airs on RDS and Sportsnet East.

This is the first of three meetings between the Habs and Devils, and the first of two in New Jersey. Last season, the Canadiens took two of three games against Devils, losing their final meeting 4-1. David Desharnais had a goal, two assists and a shootout goal in three games against the Devils last season.

What to Watch

The Canadiens ended 2014 with four straight wins and look to keep their streak alive in the new year. Lars Eller has points in his last three games, including his league best fifth game winning goal scored against the Hurricanes on Monday. Nathan Beaulieu played over 19 minutes for just the third time this season on Tuesday against the Panthers, but it was his second game in a row reaching that mark. The 22-year old defenseman seems to be slowly earning the trust of his coach, gaining more responsibility with each game.

With 21 points, Jaromir Jagr leads the way for the Devils at age 42. Jagr is fifth in all-time scoring with 1776 points, and sixth in goals with 711. Former Hab Mike Cammalleri leads New Jersey in goals with 11. The Devils could certainly use more help in the goal scoring department, the team is 28th in goals per game, averaging just 2.08 so far this season.

What’s at Stake

With 33 points on the season, the Devils are having a tough time keeping up in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Canadiens have fallen two points back of the Lightning and a point back on the Penguins and Islanders, but with the Bolts and Pens playing each other on Friday as well, even a win means the Habs won’t catch up with all their competition.

Who’s Out

The Canadiens are healthy to start off 2015.

The Devils on the other hand are the latest team to be hit by the mumps, Patrik Elias and Michael Ryder both missed the team’s last game with the illness, but could be ready for Friday’s game. Steve Bernier (leg) is doubtful to play on Friday, while Stephen Gionta (hand) and Bryce Salvador (lower body) are out long term.

What Else

Carey Price is expected to start against the Devils on Friday, his 400th career start, and 400th in a Habs uniform. Price will be only the third Canadiens goalie to reach 400 games, passing Ken Dryden’s 397 just before the holiday break. Price will be trying for win number 200, as he moves up that list as well, he’s currently fifth all time in wins for the Canadiens.

The Question Mark

The holiday season is a great time for hockey with marquee events like the Winter Classic and the World Junior Championship both taking place this week, so what we want to know from you is: what is your favorite hockey related event?

Tonight’s Show

Join host Steven Hindle along with Kosta Papoulias and Rob Elbaz for the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show as we go live at 6:00 to preview the Canadiens and the Devils.

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