OK…I’ve somehow put aside the disappointing loss to the Buffalo Sabres…chalk it up to personal growth. I hope that both fellow fans as well as members of the Montreal Canadiens roster have managed to do the same. No sense dwelling on failure. Hell, I let in the first shot that was fired on me tonight in my own game, and rather than let it deflate and destroy my confidence, i challenged myself to recognize my own ability and managed to settle down and turn in a pretty good game from that moment forward. Here is to hoping that our struggling yet beloved squad finds a way to get a grasp on the confidence that it so desperately needs.
The New Jersey Devils are up next and that is rarely a good thing for the Habs. In fact, this is one opponent that clearly dominates the Montreal Canadiens. The teams have faced one another 103 times in the regular season and the Devils have a 57-37-8-1-0 record against our boys. As far as i can tell, this represents a pretty dramatic edge and won’t help to provide le bleu/blanc/rouge with the aplomb that it would like to have going into a game of such importance. But, stranger things have happened, and i choose to be positive as the game approaches…really you can never predict the outcome…who knows maybe Brodeur decides he doesn’t want to play…
This is the third of four contests between these organizations with each team having won the game in the opponent’s building…well that has got to be encouraging, no? Am i grasping at straws here?!! The Devils occupy the 8th and final playoff berth in the East while Montreal is one floor above the dungeon, ten points behind with the New Jersey squad enjoying a game in hand. Critical game you say? Montreal was heating up prior to the All-Star Break but lost its only game to Buffalo since play resumed. The Devils are riding a one game winning streak having beaten The Wild in a shootout on Tuesday.
Statistically, the teams are very similar…which is rather odd considering the 10 points and six spots that distinguish the teams. But closer investigation reveals nearly identical numbers as far as goals for and against are concerned. The Devils have scored 133 to the Canadiens 131 and have allowed 139 while the Habs have surrendered 137. Both teams, then, post a -6 differential.
Special teams are quite comparable as well. As far as the power play goes, both organizations fare in the bottom third of the league (NJ ranks 23rd while Montreal has improved if you will to 29th). Are you finding it difficult to fathom a less successful PP than what the Habs have delivered to date? Well, just talk to some Phoenix Coyote fans! As is to be expected with defensively – minded teams, both rosters excel on the penalty kill. The teams rank first and second in the league when down a man with Montreal holding the slightest edge in this regard.
This one should be a goaltending duel for the ages. Brodeur vs. Price…c’mon how often do you get to see that?!?! I did not even look up the stats on this one because Martin Brodeur absolutely owns the Canadiens. He certainly has to get the edge in this comparison no matter what the actual numbers say. By the way, despite being a fiercely loyal Habs fan, i wear a Marty Brodeur jersey when i play the game. Don’t be too harsh in judging me on this one. He has earned my admiration and to maybe soften the blow, i should let you know that his name appears on my Team Canada top rather than on a Devils sweater…
I predict that the storied Montreal Canadiens will surprise everyone with a solid road victory in the very unfriendly confines of the Prudential Centre in Newark, NJ. They will, however, have to solve Brodeur in the process while also managing to contain Habs’ Killer Zach Parise.
Unfortunately for the Habs, they will still be missing Travis Moen who is out with an upper body injury. This will be the third consecutive game in which he is sidelined. Petteri Nokelainen will also miss the game due to health reasons. Louis Leblanc has been called up from the Bulldogs. I trust that he will have more impact than Andreas Engqvist who has been sent back down to the farm team. Naturally, Markov, Gionta, and Ryan White are still not ready to return. I would expect constant line juggling on the part of Randy Cunneyworth…that is one thing that has not changed all that much since he took over the head coaching duties from Jacques Martin.
Go Habs Go!!!!