MONTREAL – The Habs look to cool one of the NHL’s hottest teams as the Rangers visit the Bell Centre on the hunt for their eighth straight win.
Surging into the Montreal with a string of seven consecutive victories in their pocket, the Rangers are currently looking to extend that streak to eight for the first time since January of 1975. Thirty-seven years later, the Canadiens will be gunning to keep John Tortorella’s troops from repeating the feat.
“We’re going to expect their best. We know this is a team that has skill and has talent. They move pucks well up front and they work,” said Gorges, who was tapped to play a marathon 10:09 seconds on the penalty kill when the teams last met at MSG on Nov. 5.
|Canadiens vs. Rangers|
“This is a hard working team that’s going to push you to compete every second you’re out there. We have to watch out for them cycling pucks down low and trying to keep the puck in their end,” added the Habs' most seasoned blue-liner in Saturday’s lineup. “It’s going to our job to watch out for these things, win the wars in front of our net and not spend too much time in our own zone.”
While both the Habs and the Rangers might be far from having the most prolific power plays in the NHL, ranking 24th and 25th respectively in that category, Jacques Martin isn’t looking to take any chances after the teams’ last encounter.
“If you look at our last game against the Rangers, we took a lot of penalties that cost us, so discipline will be a focus for us tonight,” dropped the Canadiens head coach in reference to the 16:00 of penalty time his team racked up in New York.
“We’re looking at a tough game tonight. They have the second best defense in the league right now, so we know that they’re playing well without the puck,” added Martin. “We’ll be looking for our forwards to really pitch in defensively for us tonight, and help us make sure we’re working well as a five man unit in our own zone.”
Carey Price will be back in the crease looking for more success against the Rangers at home after going 3-0-1 in their last four Bell Centre meetings, posting an average of only 1.72 goals against. Scott Gomez also enters the game with an edge having played for the Rangers for two seasons before coming to Montreal.
"You look at the Rangers tonight, they’re one of the best teams in the league and it’s a good challenge for us,” said Gomez who played under Tortorella in 2008-09. “Not to take anything away from the Islanders, but we weren’t playing to our potential in that game from the get go.
“You look at the race and no one wants to fall behind. We’re going up against a team that’s playing at its best right now -- the two points are there, we just have to go get them.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.