Pregame Preview: Canadiens at Penguins (Game #61)

Canadiens Vs PenguinsMatch Up:

The Canadiens (32-21-6) are in Pittsburgh to face the Penguins (40-15-3) Thursday night, fresh off a 2-1 OT loss to the Red Wings. The game is set to start at 7:00 and airs on RDS and TSN-Habs.

This is the third and final game between the Habs and Penguins this season. The Habs took the first game 3-2 at the Bell Centre, but dropped the last meeting 5-1. Carey Price was pulled from that match midway through the second after allowing 5 goals on 21 shots. Jussi Jokinen had a pair of goals and Evgenin Malkin had a goal and an assist, bringing him up to 4 points in 2 games against the Canadiens this season.

What to Watch:

The Habs only managed two shots on goal in the second period of Wednesday’s game, finishing the night with 20 in close to 65 minutes of play. Brian Gionta tallied 6 shots and scored the team’s only goal in Montreal’s first game back after the Olympics. Peter Budaj had 28 saves in 30 shots and kept his team in the game for 59 minutes until Gionta managed to draw the Habs even.

This will be Pittsburgh’s first game since the Olympics ended, they haven’t played since February 7. Like the Canadiens, the Penguins have a pair of gold medalists returning from Sochi in Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz, both of whom scored in the Gold Medal game versus Sweden. And like the Red Wings, the Pens have an Olympic coach behind their bench; Dan Bylsma led Team USA during this year’s Winter Games.

What’s at Stake:

A win Thursday against the Conference leading Pens would help the Habs stay a step ahead of the Leafs, but, with Carey Price staying behind as the team traveled to Pittsburgh, the Canadiens will be in tough against one of the most potent offensive teams in the league. The good news is, Peter Budaj had a solid outing against the Wings on Wednesday. The bad news? He’ll be playing on less than 24 hours rest if he starts in Pittsburgh.

Who’s Out:

The Habs are missing Carey Price (lower body), Michael Bournival (concussion) and Brandon Prust (upper body). Prust has been placed on injured reserve for the time being.

The Penguins are missing Beau Bennett (wrist), Chris Conner (wrist) and goalie Tomas Vokoun (hip). Taylor Pyatt (lower body) and Joe Vitale (upper body) were injured prior to the Olympics but could return for Thursday’s game.

What Else:

Dale Weise played in his fourth game as a Hab on Wednesday, and although he played the least minutes so far since joining the team, he still made an impact on the game with 5 hits. Weise’s arrival coincided with the return of Ryan White from injury and the pair seemed to have formed an instant chemistry. Since the duo have been put together, the Canadiens are 3-0-1 and have allowed just 5 goals. White had 2 goals and an assist in the two games leading up to the break, which included his first career game winning goal.

The Question Mark:

Habs GM Marc Bergevin has already pulled the trigger on one deal for the Canadiens, sending Raphael Diaz to Vancouver for Dale Weise. What we want to know from you is, how many more deals do you expect Bergevin to make between now and the deadline and what is the team’s biggest need?

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.

 

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About Rob Elbaz

Rob Elbaz has written 174 post in this blog.

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

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