The Montreal Canadiens (1-4-2) will take on the Florida Panthers (4-3-0) Monday night at the Bell Centre for the first of four meetings. The game is scheduled for 7:30 and will air on RDS.
While the Panthers have had a much better start than Montreal, it seems they weren’t completely satisfied with their team. Florida Gm Dale Tallon traded away career Panther David Booth to the Canucks on Saturday in return for Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm.
What to Watch:
It will be interesting to see what Sturm and Samualsson bring to a Panther’s line-up that has already impressed this season. Off-season additions Kris Versteeg and Brian Campbell have been working out nicely for Florida, Versteeg has 8 points in 7 games while Campbell has picked up 7 assists so far.
The Canadiens are a desperate team coming into Monday’s game with far too many marquee players having slow starts to the season. Subban, Cole, Gomez, Gionta and yes even Carey Price would like to have gotten off to better starts this year. Despite having to deal with some mind-boggling line combinations, Andrei Kostitsyn has found away to contribute regularly so far, unfortunately the same cannot be said for Erik Cole. Cole, more than anyone it seems, is still struggling to figure out Jacques Martin’s system. He has only 1 assist in 7 games for the Habs and is a -3.
What’s at Stake:
The Habs keep finding ways to lose and the calls for JM’s head keep getting louder. At this point, the Canadiens need to string some wins together and find their confidence if there is any hope in salvaging the season. Montreal is last in their conference and the competition isn’t about to get any easier with four games in the next six nights, including two against the defending Cup Champs.
Aaron Palushaj and Andreas Engqvist were both sent down to Hamilton early Sunday and Bulldogs forward Brock Trotter was traded, along with a 7th round pick, to Phoenix in return for Petteri Nokelainen and Garrett Stafford. Nokelainen, a winger, will be in the line-up Monday night, while Stafford will join the Bulldogs. Michael Blunden was recalled from Hamilton and will replace Engqvist as 4th line center. Spacek has been practicing but will probably miss Monday’s game, as will Scott Gomez (upper body). Markov (knee), Campoli (hamstring) and White (groin) are still out with no set return date.
The Panther’s will be without Sean Bergenheim, dealing with what coach Kevin Dineen referred to as a core injury. Goalie Scott Clemmensen is also out, recovering from knee surgery. Ed Jovanovski and Shawn Matthias should be back in the line-up after missing games with minor ailments and goalie Jose Theodore should also be ready for action Monday night even though he had to be taken out of Saturday’s game early.
There will be no quick fixes for the Habs as the team looks to find its winning ways, improvements need to be made to just about every aspect of their game. On top of a disgraceful power play, 2-for-29 and counting, The Canadiens have been especially guilty of failing to clear the crease around Carey Price. The young netminder was forced to come to his own defence Saturday night against the Leafs, earning a slashing penalty for striking Nazim Kadri.
Be sure to tune into Habstalkradio.com before and after the game for the Drive to the Game and the Habs Talk Radio Post Game Show.