The Habs this week - Feb. 9, 2009
The Canadiens currently own a two-game winning streak against the Flames, both coming at the Bell Centre. They haven’t visited Calgary since January 2006 and will be looking for their first win at the Saddledome since January 2002. Cowtown hasn’t been all that kind to the Habs in the 21st century; the team is 1-3-2-1 since December 2, 2000.
While the Flames sit among the top 10 in the league with the extra attacker at home, they’ll want to be wary of the Canadiens, who have proven to be one of the more dangerous shorthanded squads. The Habs have found the back of the net nine times while down a man, second only to the Flyers. Tomas Plekanec leads the way with three, second best in the NHL.
Canadiens @ Oilers – Wednesday, Feb. 11 @ 10 PM
Despite their difficulties, they remain in the thick of the playoff hunt in the Western Conference. Heading into the week, Edmonton was sitting in ninth place with 56 points - same as eighth-seed Vancouver, which has a game in hand – and just one back of Minnesota in seventh place. They’re not the only ones in a potentially precarious position; a mere three points separated the fifth through eighth seeds and the overall gap through 15th-place St. Louis was just six points.
The tilt will be the first time former Hab Sheldon Souray faces his former ‘mates. After a disappointing 2007-08 campaign marred by injury, the 32-year-old has bounced back with 14 goals and 34 points in 52 games.
Canadiens @ Avalanche – Friday, Feb. 13 @ 9 PM
The post-lockout world has been a topsy-turvy one for the Avalanche. They’ve alternated playoff appearances with none at all and appeared poised for the latter once again this season. Mired in 14th place in the Western Conference, the club has been forced to deal with the loss of captain Joe Sakic to a double-shot of injuries as well 2007-08 leading scorer Paul Statsny, who had 31 points in 34 games before fracturing his forearm while blocking a shot on Dec. 23.
Canadiens @ Canucks – Sunday, Feb. 15 @ 10 PM
The Northwest tour wraps up in Vancouver as the Canadiens touch down on GM Place for the first time since January 2006. At the start of the season, one would have been hard-pressed to find a Hab who circled this matchup on his calendar; the team has dropped four straight to the Canucks and haven’t tasted victory as the visitor since November 2000.
There will be plenty of new faces on both sides of the ice as the Montreal and Vancouver are counting on just nine and eight players, respectively, from the lineup in their last matchup back in January 2007. While there will be many new bodies on the home side, the Habs will be very familiar with at least one – former Leaf Mats Sundin. Set to blow out 38 candles on Friday, the Swedish center had a slow start with his new team but had better luck over the weekend, notching three points in Saturday's triumph over the Blackhawks.
Heather Engel is a writer for canadiens.com
Vote for the play of the week