The Battle For 29th: Canadiens Face The Oilers!

Feb. 26, 2012: Sunrise, FL, USA; Montreal Canadiens goalie Peter Budaj (30) blocks a shot on goal from Florida Panthers during the third period at the BankAtlantic Center. The Panthers won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Tonight, the 28th and 29th placed teams will face off at Rexall Place in an eagerly anticipated battle of the lightweights. The Canadiens, 2-7-1 in their last 10, will take on the slightly less mediocre Oilers, who are 4-6-0 in their last 10. The Canadiens have faced the Oilers once before this season, losing 3-1 and being outshot 29-14. In the 2010-2011 season, they lost both games versus the Oilers, one in regulation and one in overtime by a combined score of 8-4. Needless to say, the Canadiens just aren’t very good against mediocre teams from Alberta.

Truth be told, the Oilers have a lot to look forward to in coming years. If they can keep all of their young players together. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins make for a great, fast young line. Add to that names like David Musil, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, and Linus Omark and you get the idea. The Oilers are missing a good young d-man, but that could be corrected this year. This is supposed to be a deep draft for d-men, though the Oilers will probably be tempted to take one of Nail Yakupov (if Columbus doesn’t – they’re the most likely to pick 1st). I, for one, am hoping that they are not interested in the services of Mikhail Grigorenko, or even Alex Galchenyuk. They need an elite d-man more than they need another forward.

For the Canadiens, there’s some hope that they can be better in the near future. They have a good core of 25-or-under players, with Carey Price, P.K Subban, David Deshnarnais, Max Pacioretty, Alexei Emelin with Louis Leblanc, Brendan Gallagher, Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu waiting in the wings. That being said, they’ve got considerable deadweight right now. Scott Gomez, Rene Bourque, Tomas Kaberle, among others. This summer should be an interesting one for the Habs, and that starts at the draft.

As for the game tonight, I’m kind of hoping the Canadiens lose. It feels terrible and unnatural but Canadiens fans deserve a top 2-pick after this fiasco. We deserve an elite centre. It may have been made easier by the decision to rest Carey Price in favor of giving Peter Budaj his 10th start of the season. He is looking for win # 3.

Game starts at 9:30pm eastern.

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