Game two of the Florida Panthers Eastern Canadien road swing is tonight as they visit the Bell Centre and an old nemises friend acquaintance, Uncle Jack (Jacques Martin) and the Montreal Canadiens.
Please make sure that you pay a visit to our friends over a Four Habs Fans. I love their site, and they always have something witty to say.
Now for the pregame psych job! Looks like Tomas Vokoun is going to be between the pipes after getting a 2 game nailing to the bench rest in favor of backup Scott Clemmensen, who despite the long layoff and doorman job he had succumed to, did fairly well winning both starts against Tampa and Toronto. But as of yesterday, all fingers were pointing back to Vokoun getting the nod for tonight. Well rested and mentally healed, Vokoun should be ready to go and face the team that originally drafted him.
The Canadiens are coming off a disappointing loss to the Buffalo Sabres in a 3-2 shootout which featured the return on high scoring winger Michael Cammalleri who has missed 17 games from a knee injury. Cammalleri was held scoreless and also failed to convert in the shootout loss. The Canadiens probably thought that the return of their leading scorer would be enough “juice” to catapult them to victory all by itself. The Panthers know about that all too much, as it takes a few games to get your wheels back.
Cary Price wasn’t happy with the out come as he had one of his best games of the season stopping 40 shots in regulation. Defenceman Marc- Andre Bergeron, known as the Urologist by the guys at Four Habs Fans, also returned from a 15 game layoff due to a knee injury as well. Bergeron assisted on Andrei Kostitsyn’s second goal of the night.
Cammalleri leads Montreal in goals with 26, even after the 17 game layoff, while the creative and skilled Tomas Plekanec leads in points with 66. With as much offensive firepower as Montreal posseses you would think that scoring isn’t an issue, however having that firepower promotes taking chances offensively that can cause odd man rushes and forces your defence to work harder, thus giving up more shots than normal. Something that a Jacques Martin team just can’t get away from. In last nights game Montreal was outshot 42-28 including 17-8 in the third period. I would bet that Uncle Jack wasn’t too happy about the shootout loss especially since Montreal blew a two goal lead.
The Panthers meanwhile will have number one goalie Tomas Vokoun back in net tonight as they continue their valiant effort to make the playoffs. Still in eleventh place in the East, they have alot of work to do and alot of teams to climb in order to make it. It’s a challenge for sure and not something they are equipped for on their own, meaning they will need help from everyone in front of them. Kind of like the sky falling.
The new top line of Weiss, Horton and Cory Stillman each have four points in their last four games. Consistent yes. But the bulk of the scoring has come from the top line all year as Michael Frolik has suffered the sophomore slump and Rusty Olesz hasn’t earned his three million dollars this year at all. Olesz was on a 21 game scoreless streak until getting an assist Tuesday night against Toronto. Olesz owes Martin a few steak dinners for the contract he was given. Maybe they can shake hands before the game starts.
The defensive rotation has been mostly consisting of five guys lately with Bryan McCabe and Keith Ballard getting increased time. Jason Garrison has looked better each game, yet rookie Keaton Ellerby is getting less than five minutes per night, and in one game his ice time was a whopping 35 seconds. That will catch up eventually, especially this late in the season.
Always an exciting game to see in Montreal, as the Canadiens fight to stay in the playoffs, while the Panthers hope their pipe dream of making them doesn’t end.
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