The Habs this week
Montreal’s three-game road trip continues on Tuesday night, when it visits the RBC Center for the first time this season. The Canadiens and Hurricanes, two teams that had been struggling of late, head into the contest coming off identical results. Both clubs snapped their respective skids – at two and three games, respectively – by rallying for 3-2 shootout wins on Sunday.
The Habs and ‘Canes last met on Oct. 28 at the Bell Centre, with Guy Carbonneau’s squad skating away with a 3-2 triumph in the shootout.
Keep an eye on:
Tomas Plekanec: There’s something in the Carolina air that just seems to agree with Plekanec. The 26-year-old has made the Hurricanes his favorite victim so far in his career, averaging just over a point-per-game in 12 career contests, including seven goals.
Matt Cullen: With Justin Williams injured and Erik Cole plying his trade in Edmonton, the 11-year veteran center moves up on the list of players the Habs will want to watch out for. Cullen has piled up 22 points in 25 career games against Montreal, while registering a plus-nine differential.
Canadiens at Senators – Thursday, Nov. 20 @ 7:30 PM
A Senators squad searching for answers is on the agenda on Thursday night. Nine days after the Canadiens shut out their division rival 4-0 at the Bell Centre, Craig Hartsburg’s crew finds itself in the midst of a four-game slide, heading into their Monday night matchup against the Rangers.
Keep an eye on:
Christopher Higgins: Higgins notched his first career hat trick against the Senators in last week’s meeting, upping his goal total to 10 against Daniel Alfredsson and Co., the most he’s lit the lamp against any team. Ottawa will want to be wary of the left-winger when the Habs are shorthanded; three of his 10 tallies have come on the penalty kill.
Jason Spezza: Spezza has always enjoyed games against the Canadiens, having notched 41 points in 31 games, his best total against any NHL club. Lately, though, not much has gone in the center’s favor, picking up just three points in his last eight games, as of Monday.
Canadiens vs. Bruins – Saturday, Nov. 22 @ 7:30 PM
The Canadiens surely won’t need much motivation for Saturday night’s contest. Not only will the team be looking to exact a little revenge from their outing nine days earlier in Boston, the Habs will be honoring one of their legends prior to the game, as Patrick Roy’s No. 33 takes its place in the Bell Centre rafters. While the Canadiens’ 12-game winning streak against the Bruins was snapped in their last matchup, Montreal is still riding undefeated on home ice, having picked up two points in eight straight meetings at the Bell Centre.
Heading into Monday’s action, the Bruins were second in the Eastern Conference behind only the Rangers, and held a two-point lead over the Canadiens. Boston, which saw its five-game winning streak come to an end on Saturday night with an overtime loss to the Rangers, has a busy week ahead with four games in six nights, including a matchup on Friday night, just before their tilt with the Canadiens.
Keep an eye on:
Saku Koivu: The Habs’ captain has picked up at least a point in four of the last five meetings with the Bruins. Koivu would be five-for-five if shootout-winning goals were counted in a player’s stats; in the lone game where he was held without a point in regulation, the 33-year-old captured the win for his teammates in the ultimate tie-breaker.
Marco Sturm: The sole remnant of the Joe Thornton trade three years ago, Sturm is certainly comfortable in Beantown and it would seem they enjoy having him there. The left-winger has four multi-point games already this season and the Bruins are 5-2 in the seven games in which he’s recorded at least one point.
Heather Engel is a writer for canadiens.com