Habs this week – Jan. 4, 2010

Monday, 04.01.2010 / 10:10 AM / News
canadiens.com
MONTREAL - The second half of the season is already in full swing and following the Canadiens’ successful holiday road trip to close out 2009, the playoff race is about to kick into high gear.

Canadiens @ Capitals – Tuesday, January 5 @ 7:00 p.m.

After a one game layover in la Belle Province on Sunday night, the Habs hit the road again and head to the U.S. capital on Tuesday night. Already knocking on the door of 50 points in just 33 games this season, Alex Ovechkin and the Caps will look to snap a three game losing streak heading into Tuesday’s matchup. Montreal and Washington have already met twice this season, splitting the series so far with each game coming down to just a one goal difference, including a shootout in the most recent contest.    

Ovechkin may be leading the league in points per game, but he won’t be the only lethal sniper in uniform at the Verizon Center. Habs winger Tomas Plekanec is coming off the most productive season of his career heading into the New Year, piling up 21 points last month alone. The Canadiens will also count on some production from Andrei Markov who was enjoying a seven game point streak following his return to action in December.

Canadiens vs. Panthers – Thursday, January 7 @ 7:30 p.m.

The Canadiens take on the Panthers in a rematch of their New Years Eve tilt in the Sunshine State last week. The Habs rang in 2010 in style, firing 42 shots on Tomas Vokoun and battling to a 5-4 win over Jacques Martin’s former squad.

If the Panthers were considering spending time in the penalty box against the Canadiens, they might want to come up with a Plan B. The Habs’ power play has been nothing short of lethal on its way to climbing to a league-best 24.8% clip. More bad news for the Panthers lies in their 22nd ranked penalty kill, which is sure to have its paws full with the Montreal power play on Thursday night.

Canadiens vs Devils – Saturday, January 9 @ 7:00 p.m.

It’s never good news for anyone but his friends and family in Montreal when Martin Brodeur comes to town, especially not when the Devils are the top team in the Eastern Conference with 59 points. True to form, Brodeur leads the NHL with 26 victories to go with a .920 save percentage but he will be staring across from a pair of goalies who are hot in their own right. Carey Price has raised his save percentage to .916 while Jaroslav Halak’s Christmas binge saw him sky-rocket to .922.

At the other end, Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta will join forces to face the team they began their careers with for the first time since coming to Montreal. Gionta was out with a foot injury when the teams last met. The duo amassed a combined 516 points as teammates in New Jersey, winning a Stanley Cup together in 2003. They will get to flex some offensive muscle against someone they know all too well in the game, Martin Brodeur.

Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com

See also
The Numbers Game - Jan. 3, 2010
Jaroslav Halak earns Molson Cup player of the month for December 
2010 World Junior Hockey Championship 
The Voice of the Fans - Midseason report