Pregame Preview: Canadiens at Capitals (Game #23)

habs_vs_capitalsMatch Up:

The Canadiens (11-9-2) are in Washington Friday night hoping to maintain the scoring touch they found against the Wild when they take on the Capitals (12-9-1). The game is set to start at 7:00 and can be seen on RDS and TSN.

This is the first of three meetings between the Habs and Caps this season, they’ll meet again in Washington next Friday as well and finish of the season series in Montreal on January 25. Last season the Habs went 1-2-0 against Washington, each team winning all their games in the opponents home rink.

What to Watch:

Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais led the way for the Habs Tuesday night against the Wild. Pacioretty scored a natural hat trick giving him 5 goals on the year, while Desharnais set up the first two goals to bring him up to 3 points, all assists, this season.

Alexei Emelin has been back for two games and since his return to action he’s already leveled 8 hits and blocked 7 shots.

As he has been since joining the league in 2005, Alex Ovechkin remains the Capitals’ most potent threat. With 17 goals in 20 games played the Russian superstar has a chance to top his own personal best of 65 goals scored in the 2007-08 campaign. Nicklas Backstrom is also having a great season and is keeping pace with Ovechkin. Backstrom has 24 points to tie him for the team lead.

What’s at Stake:

The Habs found their scoring touch on Tuesday, but the Canadiens are still a middle of the pack team in terms of offensive production. On the other side of the puck, the Habs have allowed the second fewest goals against per game. If the Canadiens can find the offensive consistency to match their defensive play, they can become a real threat in the league.

Who’s Out:

Rene Bourque (lower body) will miss his second consecutive Friday, and Carey Price will be sidelined as well, resting up for Saturday’s game against the Penguins. Peter Budaj will get the start on Friday.

For the Capitals, defensemen Jack Hillen (leg) and John Erskine (upper body) are both out, but Mike Green will make his return after missing action on Wednesday.

What Else:

The Canadiens are playing their 23rd game of the season Friday, but just their tenth against a conference rival. The Capitals are the only other team in the East not to play 10 games yet within their conference. At the other end of the spectrum, the Bruins have played 17 of their 22 games against Eastern conference opponents. The Bruins  sit atop the conference, but then again, the Blue Jackets have also played 17 games against they East but without nearly the same success.

The Question Mark:

Did Therrien find the right line combination Tuesday against the Wild, or are there better combinations?

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.

 

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About Rob Elbaz

Rob Elbaz has written 150 post in this blog.

Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show Panelist and all around good guy.

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