Original six fix
BROSSARD – Fans can look forward to a rare Original Six match up as the high-flying Red Wings take on the Habs at the Bell Centre.
As the only two teams in action Wednesday night, the Canadiens and Red Wings will look to put on a show worthy of an Original Six tilt. Riding a seven game win streak into the Bell Centre, the NHL’s No.1 squad will try to stay hot heading into the All-Star break, while the Habs will aim to counter Detroit’s rock solid style with a dose of desperate hockey.
“It’s always a big game whenever we play the Red Wings. They’re a team that has a chance to win every year and it’s going to take our best efforts to beat them tonight,” said Mathieu Darche on the subject of the league’s most consistent team set to hit Bell Centre ice for the first time since Nov. 21, 2009.
|Canadiens vs. Red Wings|
“You watch that team and it seems like they’re all always on the same page, whether it’s their top players, or guys that are on the third and fourth lines. Their two best offensive players are also their two best defensive players,” added the 35-year-old forward. “[Pavel] Datsyuk and Zetterberg are always the first guys there on their back-check and when you see guys like that doing those things, it sets a great example for the rest of the team.”
A few stalls down, assistant captain, Josh Gorges, was giving his own take on what it would take to topple the league’s best – a feat the Canadiens proved they were more than capable of when they downed the Rangers 4-1 on Jan. 15.
“We realize the scope of what we’re up against tonight. This is the best team in the NHL right now and they’re definitely playing like it. They’re a group of veterans that all play very intelligently,” expressed Gorges of Detroit – the only team in the league to have an average age over 30-years-old. “They control the puck a lot of the time and they really make you fight for possession. We’re going to have to be at our best and try to push our style of game.
“We have to be ready to go for 60 or 65 minutes if need be to come out of this with two points,” finished the league-leader in blocked shots. “We’ll have all the time we need to rest up after tonight, but right now we need to set our sights on winning this game.”
While his invitation from NHL to the All-Star weekend’s skills competition may have come as an unexpected surprise, rookie Raphael Diaz promised that for the time being, his sights are set squarely where they need to be – on Wednesday night and the Red Wings.
“My plan is just to stay focused on tonight and prepare with the same routine that I would for any game. We have to win this match and that’s all I care about right now. After it’s over, maybe then the other news will sink in for me,” dropped Diaz who will be the 13th NHL rookie invited to partake in the All-Star festivities – an experience he was happy to drop his other plans to enjoy.
“I was going to head up to Mont Tremblant and relax there over the All-Star break, but I think getting to actually go to the event should be even more fun. You won’t hear any complaints from me,” grinned the Swiss defenseman who just might find himself feeling a little older than usual when he meets up with the other rookies in Ottawa. “The guys here are definitely getting their shots in about the fact that I’m going into the weekend as a rookie even though I’m 26 years old, but what can I say – it’s my first season here.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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