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Rested and refocused

Thursday, 03.11.2011 / 2:04 PM / News
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Rested and refocused


BROSSARD – The Habs take a hard look at the revamped Senators squad standing between them and a fourth consecutive win.

Despite getting off to rocky starts in 2011-12, the Senators and Canadiens both ended the month of October riding six and three game win-streaks respectively. With the Senators dropping their first game of November and the Habs forced to idle for five days after finally hitting their stride, expect both squads to explode out of the gate when the puck drops Friday night.

“It’s a big game. Both teams are playing well right now. The Senators were on a good win streak before they lost to Boston the other night, so you have to know that they’re going to come out hungry and try to get back to winning side of things,” said sophomore P.K. Subban who continues to average over 20 minutes per game in the Habs current campaign.

Canadiens vs. Senators

“I think everybody knew that they had some good players and some good pieces to their team, but I don’t think many people thought they’d be doing as well as they are this early in the season,” added Subban. At the end of the day that’s the league; that’s the NHL right now – everyone has a chance to win every night, it’s just a matter of who shows up.”

While the latest edition of the Sens might be a relatively young team with an average age of 27.1-years-old, veteran Erik Cole has no plans to underestimate their ability.

“They had a lot of question marks when it came to some of their players that weren’t really established yet at the NHL level, but had had success at the AHL level,” mentioned Cole who holds a career record of 17 points in 29 games against Ottawa. “A lot of times when people are looking at a situation like that they tend to focus on the inexperience and that unknown players might not perform well, but unknown players can also make for some pretty big surprises.”

The Canadiens will be looking for solid performances from their special team units as they get set to square off against a Sens squad whose own rankings on the penalty-kill and man-advantage are perched at opposite ends of the NHL ladder.

“Their primary strength is with the man-advantage,” pointed out Martin of a Sens power play boasting a league-topping 28.9% efficiency with 13 goals to its credit. “We’re going to have to make sure that our penalty kill is working hard, but at the same time, the best thing to do is stay out of the penalty box as much as possible. This is a team that’s shown they’re capable of scoring goals. They have a lot of young players, so there’s a lot of enthusiasm fueling them at the moment.”

The Habs will also be aiming to take advantage of their own opportunities on the power play – and if the Senators’ current trend continues, there should be plenty of them.

Ottawa presently stands as the most penalized team in the league with 224 penalty minutes in 13 games. Couple that with a penalty kill ranked 27th overall, that’s allowed 17 goals, and it would seem as though discipline will be the primary focus for both teams come Friday night.

Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.

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