After a successful set of three games in four nights, the Canadiens have it relatively easy this week. Well, schedule-wise anyhow. Only two games are on tap against teams aching for wins.
The light week begins Thursday with a visit from the Devils before the Habs head down the 417 for a rematch with the Senators.
Canadiens vs. Devils – Thursday, Oct. 21 at 7:30 PM
Oh, those New Jersey Devils. They’ve given the Canadiens more than a few fits over the years, largely due to the future Hall-of-Famer manning the crease. Martin Brodeur boasts a 38-16-5 lifetime record, 1.78 goals-against average and .931 save percentage against Montreal. He’s been even better at the Molson/Bell Centre, owning a 1.58 goals-against average and .942 save percentage in the Canadiens’ current digs.
The Devils would love for that to continue on Thursday night. Owners of a 1-4-1 record, New Jersey has managed just 10 goals; Ilya Kovalchuk and Jason Arnott lead the way with a pair apiece. And the one-time defensive demons have given up 11 more than they’ve scored, the largest differential in the NHL.
Injuries combined with salary cap issues haven’t helped. The Devils could be deprived of shot-blocker extraordinaire Anton Volchenkov, who suffered a broken nose and a stiff neck after taking a shot to the visor on Oct. 9 against the Capitals. If he’s unable to go, Sherbrooke, QC native Olivier Magnan-Grenier could be his replacement.
In spite of the Devils’ struggles, few need to be reminded of the talent on the roster. At 38, Brodeur remains a world class netminder. That’s on top of a forward corps that includes Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, Patrik Elias and Travis Zajac.
The Canadiens went 1-2-1 against New Jersey last season, all close contests.
Canadiens at Senators – Saturday, Oct. 23 at 7 PM
Last Saturday, the Senators surprised the Canadiens with a pair of quick goals to lead 3-1. Montreal then surprised their division rivals with three unanswered markers for an eventual 4-3 triumph.
In an odd scheduling quirk, the Senators will be in Buffalo on Friday night just as the Habs had been a week ago.
Heading into their back-to-back set, Cory Clouston’s charges are looking for a second win in the young season. They provided little opposition for the Penguins on Monday, trailing 3-0 in what ultimately became a 5-2 final.
Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza share the team lead in points (five each) while Milan Michalek’s three goals sit alone on top. At the other end of the offensive scale, ex-Hab Alex Kovalev finally notched his first point of the season, earning an assist against Pittsburgh. His dismal point production dating back to last year (one goal, two assists, minus-19) has resulted in a significant drop in ice time; Kovalev is averaging just over 15 minutes this year compared to an average of 18:09 in 2009-10.
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