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.
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.
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?