After beginning the season with a pair of games at the Bell Center, the Montreal Canadiens will get their first taste of the road tonight, as they head out on a western Canadian road swing that begins in Calgary against the Flames tonight.
Montreal will play their next four games on the road, as they travel north to Edmonton to take on the Oilers tomorrow night, before playing the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, and the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.
Calgary entered full rebuild mode at the trade deadline a season ago, when they dealt Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester for future returns. Added to that, the retirement of goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff in the offseason, and the Flames were projected to bottom out this season.
The Flames however, have begun the season with points in all three games, losing in a shootout to the Washington Capitals on opening night, then beating the Columbus Blue Jackets, before falling in overtime to the Vancouver Canucks.
Calgary have had no problem scoring goals early on in the season, finding the back of the net 12 times in just three games, but they have also allowed 12 goals, while the goaltending tandem of Karri Ramo and Joey McDonald try to find a rhythm.
The Canadiens will get Max Pacioretty back, after he missed the win against the Philadelphia Flyers with an injury. Brian Gionta did not travel with the team due to family reasons, but was set to meet up with them in plenty of time to suit up for tonight’s contest.
Nathan Beaulieu, the Canadiens yo-yo was once again re-called to the big club, and will join the team as the seventh defenseman on the western swing. He may get in the lineup at some point, but it seems for now he is just an insurance policy against any injuries that may creep up.
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Briere
Bourque – Plekanec – Gionta
Galchenyuk – Eller – Gallagher
Prust – White – Moen
Gorges – Subban
Markov – Diaz
Tinordi – Bouillon
Michel Therrien said that Peter Budaj will get his first start of the season in one of the back to back games against Alberta’s teams, but he did not say which one. If it were up to me, I would suggest giving Budaj the start against the Flames. Even though they have been scoring at an impressive pace, they are a weak offensive team, and Price may be needed against the Oilers, who have plenty of more offensive fire power.
The game will mark the return of Rene Bourque to Calgary, where he played three and a half seasons, reaching the 20 goal plateau in each of his three full years with the club.
Bourque was acquired by the Canadiens, along with a second round pick and prospect Peter Holland, in a trade that sent sniped Mike Cammalleri and Karri Ramo to the Flames.
Ramo will not get the start against the Habs tonight, as Joey McDonald will be making his third straight start, and Cammalleri is yet to play this season due to injury, and will not be in the lineup against his former team.
Habs fans in the east catch a bit of a break, as puck drop is schedule for 8:00 PM EST.