The Habs this week - March 23, 2009
Canadiens vs. Thrashers – Tuesday, March 24 @ 7:30 PM
Perhaps working in the Canadiens’ favor is their past success against the Thrashers at the Bell Centre. Montreal is 12-3-0-2 in 17 home meetings against Atlanta, including their 5-4 win back on Dec. 2.
As Bob Gainey continues to look for a spark to get the fire going, he’ll hope one will come with the return of Sergei Kostitsyn. Assigned to Hamilton back on Feb. 17, the 22-year-old had been rolling right along of late, earning 13 points in nine games.
Canadiens vs. Lightning – Thursday, March 26 @ 7:30 PM
Despite their lack of success against those foes, the Canadiens know what the Lightning are capable of, most notably hometown boys Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. And while minimizing the opportunities given to the pair is part of the game plan against Tampa Bay, it’s also worth looking out for rookie Steven Stamkos. Stamkos struggled mightily through the first half and change of the season but has gotten into a groove in March, notching 11 points in 10 games.
Canadiens vs. Sabres – Saturday, March 28 @ 7 PM
Those difficulties, combined with a resurgent Senators squad, has the Sabres just two points ahead of Ottawa. It doesn’t get much easier for Buffalo this week, either; they’ll face the Panthers on Wednesday and the Maple Leafs on Friday before visiting Montreal on Saturday.
It would seem home ice has been an advantage in the season series between the division rivals. The Sabres emerged victorious in all three meetings at HSBC Arena while the Habs have won both Bell Centre contests thus far.
Heather Engel is a writer for canadiens.com
The last stretch
Max Pacioretty sent down to Hamilton
Habs Notebook - March 23