Game preview: Canadiens-Wild
MONTREAL – Following their Saturday night loss to the Ottawa Senators, the Montreal Canadiens are on the move again. Heading home to the Bell Centre to face the Minnesota Wild Sunday night, the Habs’ hectic preseason schedule continues as they play their third game in as many nights.
The 6-2 defeat resulted in a spilt of the back-to-back contests between the clubs. If there was a question as to whether Saturday night’s matchup with the Sens would be as physical as their first outing, both teams answered quickly by racking up a combined 9 penalties in the first period alone. That number would eventually climb to 28 by the end of the game, including fights between Travis Moen
and Chris Neil, as well as Benoit Pouliot
and Chris Campoli.
The Canadiens’ Sunday night game against the Wild represents only the third time the teams have met in the last three seasons, with each club walking away with a victory in regular season. The teams will not face each other again until Mar. 20, 2011.
After a disappointing start to the preseason that saw the Wild drop consecutive games, losing 5-1 and 5-0 to the St. Louis Blues, they were aiming to get back on track against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night. So far, all the Flyers preseason games had culminated in shootouts, and this one was no different, as Philadelphia walked away with a 3-2 victory keeping Minnesota winless.
Look for Niklas Backstrom to man the crease for Minnesota on Sunday minus the help of Wild backup Josh Harding. Playing his first game back against St. Louis since being sidelined for a lengthy spell after hip surgery, Harding collided with one of the Blues, aggravating the injury. He is expected to be out for most of the season with a torn MCL and ACL ligament.
Montreal native Maxim Noreau will be taking the ice for the Wild at the Bell Centre, along with familiar face Guillaume Latendresse. Latendresse was traded to the Wild by Montreal last season, and since his arrival in Minnesota has enjoyed the best hockey of his career. The 6-foot-2, 230 lbs left winger recorded 27 goals and 40 points overall in 78 games with the Wild in 2009-10.
Looking at the Canadiens roster, the same grouping of players that took on Ottawa in the Habs’ Friday night victory will hit the ice, including Brian Gionta
, Scott Gomez
, Lars Eller
, Andrei Kostitsyn
and P.K. Subban
After Sunday night’s game, the Habs will be back at it again on Monday as they host the Florida Panthers. They can then look forward to a few well-deserved days of rest before taking on the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com
The Numbers Game - September 25, 2010
Alex Auld Unmasked