The Canadiens (22-7-5) are set to host the Hurricanes (16-15-2) Monday night at the Bell Centre. The game will start at 7:30 and airs on RDS.
This will be the third and final meeting between the Habs and the Hurricanes this season. The Canadiens have already beaten the Canes in Montreal and Carolina. Brandon Prust had a goal in each game against the Hurricanes and tallied three points the last time the teams met, Lars Eller also picked up a goal and two assists in Montreal’s 4-2 victory.
What to Watch:
PK Subban is the well deserved Molson Cup winner for March as the team’s monthly MVP. Subban picked up 7 goals and 11 assists in 14 games during the month, including five points in his last 2 games. With 27 points, Subban is one point behind Ryan Suter and Kris Letang, the league leaders in defensive scoring. He also has 18 power play points, just one less than the league leader, Andrei Markov.
For the Hurricanes, Eric Staal has been on a tear of his own in March. Staal had 16 points in 13 games last month bringing him up to 16 goals and 38 points in 33 games on the season. Alex Semin also had a strong month, with three separate 3-point performances. Semin ended the month with a pair of 2-point games, earning a goal and an assist in each of the last two matches.
What’s at Stake:
With the Bruins beating the Sabres on Sunday, the Habs are just one point ahead of Boston for the Northeast division lead. The Canadiens are definitely in the driver’s seat with the season winding down, but the Bruins, Senators and Maple Leafs are all within striking distance of the Habs so the team won’t be able to relax just yet.
The Canes are looking to avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Canadiens, they’re also looking to stay alive in the Southeast division race. After a big win of the division leading Jets, Kirk Muller and the Canes are just four points back of the Jets and hold 3 games in hand.
Rene Bourque and Raphael Diaz are both still recovering from concussions, there is no set timeline for either of their returns. Ryan White (lower body) is also missing.
The Canes are without their top two goalies, Cam Ward (knee) will likely miss the rest of the regular season while Dan Ellis (leg) is also on Injured Reserve as of last Thursday. Justin Faulk (knee) and Bobby Sanguinetti (upper body) are also out. Tuomo Ruutu, who left Saturday’s game against the Jets, could play Monday night.
For a second straight game, Michael Ryder opened the scoring against the Rangers Saturday night. The goal was his seventh since rejoining the Habs and his first game winner for the team since March 20, 2008. Ryder now has 14 points in 14 games for the Canadiens, meanwhile, in Dallas, Erik Cole has just 3 goals and 0 assists in 14 games.
The Question Mark:
This is Montreal’s last game before the trade deadline. They have already proven themselves to be a better than average team this season but maybe not quite at the same level of the elite teams in the NHL.
Do you think going after a rental player us the best move for the Habs right now, or should Bergevin stand pat at the deadline? ?Use the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter to let us know what you think.
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.