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20 March 2007

Crucial Week for Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens play three games against two teams below them in the standings. This kind of situation portrays the illusion that winning is going to be easy, but as most realize, the opposite proves true more times as not.

The Habs will play a home-and-home with the Boston Bruins starting Tuesday night at the Bell Centre and then Thursday night in Boston. The Canadiens then close out the week with a home game versus the Washington Capitals.

The Bruins hold a 3-2-0 edge over the Habs in five games this season, while Montreal has out-gunned the Caps on route to a 2-1-0 record. However, the Canadiens will need to do better than the combined 4-4-0 record against the two teams this week. In order to guarantee that they remain competitive for a playoff spot, the Habs will surely need to take at least five of six points this week.

While Washington is solely looking to pull off some upsets in attempt to hamper any opponents chances of a playoff spot, the Boston Bruins are still mathematically able to reach the post season and will surely see this week's two games against Montreal as a chance to bring themselves even.

One thing on the Bruins' side is that they have played fewer games than most of the teams they are trying to catch. If Boston were to win the two games they have in hand of the eighth place Carolina Hurricanes, they would only be three points back from the 'Canes with nine games remaining.

The Washington Capitals turned some heads Sunday afternoon when they smoked the playoff bound Tampa Bay Lightning 7-1. The Caps got a great showing from 23-year-old Alexander Semin and 22-year-old Tomas Fleischmann. Semin scored a natural hat-trick for his 35th, 36th, and 37th goals while Fleischmann picked up two goals and two assists. Meanwhile, goaltender Olaf Kolzig started his third straight after missing 13 games with a knee injury. The win was the 36-year-old's 21st of the season.

Boston, on the other hand, faced a similar fate to that of the Lightning when they dropped a 7-0 match to the Rangers in New York. It was a great watch for Rangers' fans, but Bruin's Coach Dave Lewis was absolutely applaud by what he witnessed. The fact that Boston is coming off such a lop-sided loss makes them a dangerous team to play right now since they'll surely be looking to redeem themselves against the Habs.

Montreal will have a familiar face back in the line-up this week. Center Radek Bonk makes his return after missing three games with the flu, the same bug that has been plaguing the Habs since Christmas. It is doubtful that Bonk will be 100 percent, but simply having his big-body presence back on the ice will surely be welcomed.

Rookie netminder is scheduled to make his ninth NHL start, and if Coach Guy Carbonneau's words are any indication, Halak will be the go-to goalie unless he fumbles the opportunity. David Aebischer will unhappily ride the pine for the time being as the Swiss goaltender hasn't played consistent hockey for most of the season.

If you're wondering when Cristobal Huet may make his return to the Habs' net, simply read Bleu, Blanc et Rouge's post below. Huet has been practicing with the team for about a week now and rumor has it that the France native could be back as early as next week.

They key for Montreal is to take it one game at a time. They should keep it in their minds that there are few games left to make up ground on the final playoff spots, but they have to respect each game as equally important as the next. The Habs can't afford to take a minute off or it could very well cost them important points.

Thus, The Canadiens need to approach each game, each period, and each minute as sudden death overtime. If they can do that, there will be no stopping them.

Enjoy the playoffs folks; they've been on for Montreal for quite some time now.

1 fanatics have replied:

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge said...

We should win all three games this week...

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