UNIONDALE – Set for another round against their 2012-13 nemesis, the Habs will look to shut down one the NHL’s top power plays.
If there’s one thing you can’t accuse the Canadiens of doing in their latest campaign, it’s losing a lot games. In fact, the last two times the team suffered losses in regulation, they answered back with five-game winning-streaks on each occasion. The Habs have made a habit of avenging tough losses in 2012-13 and they’ll have the chance to do it again in a big way when the puck drops against the Islanders on Thursday night.
With two losses in two games played against the New York squad this year, the Habs will hit the ice for the third tilt of the year against the Isles acutely aware of what to expect in Uniondale, but more importantly – what they need to do to counter it.
“They’ve got some pretty good scorers and playmakers on that team. We’ve been reviewing video and they’re very good at working low plays with their skill guys, so we’re going to have to have good sticks and make sure to always be aware of where they are,” said Colby Armstrong, who will have his eyes peeled for the Islanders’ top guns on Thursday night.
“[Matt] Moulson’s usually camped out in front of our goalie and he does a good job of tipping pucks. The guys he’s out there with like [John] Tavares really know how to find him,” added Amstrong, who’s come on strong offensively of late, notching goals in his last two games. “They’re very good at those little tip-plays and shot-pass-tip plays and exposing that middle. It’s our job to keep him to the outside and cut off his lanes.”
Both the Canadiens and the Islanders will be looking to bounce back from home losses suffered on Tuesday night. The Habs, currently sitting pretty at the top of the Northeast division, will more than likely have to contend with a desperate Islanders team, who with only two regulation losses in eight games in March, have risen into 10th place in the East, sitting only three points behind the eighth-seeded Rangers.
“They have a lot of talented guys on their team. Guys like Mouslon, Tavares, [Lubomir] Visnovsky, [Mark] Streit and [Brad] Boyes all have very good shots,” highlighted Gabriel Dumont, singling out the Islanders’ fifth-ranked power play and its 23.4% success rate. “It’s going to be key to not give them power plays for no reason and make sure we stay disciplined. They move the puck really well on the power play and our penalty kill will have to be ready.”
While his team may once again be heading into hostile territory in Uniondale where they were handed their last loss in regulation time on March 5, don’t look for Michel Therrien to have doubts about his team or what they can accomplish. According to the Habs’ head coach, the proof is in the pudding.
“What’s important for us is to play a game tonight where we feel comfortable. We need to go out there and make good things happen on the ice. We also can’t forget that we’ve only lost once in regulation time in our last 18 games so we’re obviously doing a lot of things right,” pointed out Therrien, who will be looking for another bounce-back performance from his squad on Thursday.
“We’re not going to start panicking because we lost to the Sabres in our last game – we did a lot of good things and there were still a lot of positives and we need to continue in that vein,” he concluded. “Our goal is to go out there and play with the confidence that we currently have as a team so we can turn in a good performance against the Islanders and win this game.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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