The Habs this week
The week’s schedule opens up with a visit from the surging Calgary Flames, who are returning to Montreal for the first time since October 2006. Mike Keenan’s crew is 7-3-0 in its last 10 outings and has found the back of the net with apparent ease in that stretch, lighting the lamp at least three times in six of the seven wins.
Facing the Flames on home ice has proven to be an advantage for the Habs; Calgary hasn’t won in Montreal since December 13, 2000.
Tuesday’s tilt will also be the first time former Flames Roman Hamrlik and Alex Tanguay square off against their former ‘mates.
Matt D'Agostini: While Tuesday’s visitors have been hot of late, the fire has been burning just as strong for D’Agostini. The Bulldogs’ scoring leader when he was called up from Hamilton on Nov. 27, the 22-year-old brought that success with him to the NHL, amassing four points in the last three games. D’Agostini’s three goals - which have been scored in three straight games - have come on just 11 shots, for a 27.3% success rate.
Todd Bertuzzi: Bertuzzi signed with the Flames over the summer looking for a fresh start. And while the veteran power forward appeared to be on a roll early on in the campaign, it’s been a lot quieter over the last several weeks. Bertuzzi hasn’t found the back of the net since Nov. 2 against Anaheim and carries a team-worst minus-10 into the contest.
Canadiens vs. Lightning - Thursday, Dec. 11 @ 7 PM
To say it’s been a rough ride for the Lightning through the first two months of the season would be an understatement. Languishing at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and league standings, Tampa Bay made a coaching change in mid-November, but it hasn’t yielded the desired results. With just six wins overall, the club has just one since Rick Tocchet was promoted to interim head coach.
The Canadiens held the edge in the season series in 2007-08, going 2-1-1.
Alex Kovalev: Though he hasn’t put the pucks in the net as often as he and fans would have liked, Kovalev sits third in team scoring (as of Monday) thanks to 14 helpers. His current point production is just slightly below his 2007-08 output at the same mark of the season, when he had 23 points (12 goals, 11 assists) through 26 games.
Steven Stamkos: After scoring just four points - three in a game alone - in his first 16 games, the 2008 first overall pick has enjoyed life with his new bench boss. Heading into Monday’s schedule, Stamkos has seven points in 10 games since the change. That’s likely been propelled by an increase in ice time during that stretch, including a season-high 21:42 against the Avalanche on Nov. 29.
Canadiens vs. Capitals - Saturday, Dec. 13 @ 7 PM
Blanked by the Capitals back on Nov. 28 in Washington, the Habs will likely be looking to avenge the loss when Bruce Boudreau’s crew pays its first visit to the Bell Centre this season. The Capitals continue to ice an injury-depleted lineup, with the likes of forwards Alexander Semin, Sergei Federov, Chris Clark and defensemen Mike Green and Tom Poti, among others, still missing in action.
While the Capitals head into Monday’s matchups atop the Southeast Division, their success has come courtesy of a 10-1-1 record on home ice. It has been nearly as smooth for the Caps on the road, going 5-9-2 away from the Verizon Center.
Andrei Markov: The Canadiens’ assist leader this season as of Monday, Markov is well on pace to set a new career mark in that category. The All-Star rearguard has been the most helpful in the middle frame over the course of his career, notching 100 assists, including 55 on the power play.
Tomas Fleischmann: After a breakout campaign in 2007-08, Fleischmann has kept rolling through the first two months of the season. The 24-year-old has already matched last year’s career-high 10 goals and has 16 points through 28 contests (as of Monday). He’s been more at ease at scoring on the road, potting seven as the visitor.
Heather Engel is a writer for canadiens.com