Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Snapshot Preview: Habs VS Flames - October 9th 2013

Montreal Canadiens (1-1-0) at Calgary Flames (1-0-2)
Puck drop is at 8:00pm EST

The Montreal Canadiens have not won in Calgary since 2002. Doug Gilmour scored the winner for the Habs that night.

The last time these two teams met was during the 2011-2012 season. The Flames were 4-1 & 5-4 winners in both meetings, but much has changed since the Habs last visit to the Saddledome. Rene Bourque scored 2 goals in helping the Flames to the victory, and this will be his first visit to cow town since he was traded to Montreal. The player sent the other way in that deal, Mike Cammalleri did not play in that Habs loss and will not play in this game either as he remains sidelined with an injury.

Alex Tanguay, Jay Bouwmeester, Olli Jokinen and Jarome Iginla combined for 9 points against Montreal in 2011-2012 (2-7--9) but they have all moved on to other franchises in the interim.

The since retired Mikka Kiprusoff won both games in the Flames net posting a 2.50 GAA and a sterling save percentage of .922.

Calgary starts Joey Macdonald in between the pipes to face Montreal - only his 3rd career game against les gloriex, a second start. In that limited time frame he has put up good numbers, with a GAA of 1.71 and an excellent .932 save percentage. The Native of Pictou, Nova Scotia hasn't been off to a spectacular start to this season  surrendering 5 goals (on 28 shots) to Vancouver in Calgary's loss on home ice, October 6th.
Jiri Hudler, Mark Giordano and  David Jones have thus far been the leaders on offense for the Flames in this young NHL season, each having amassed four points in Calgary's first three games. The Saddledome has always been a friendly place for the recently acquired Hudler, who has tallied 27 points in 32 games at the building (mostly while playing for Detroit). This will be only his sixth career meeting with the Tricolore against whom he has scored three times. David Jones who also came to Calgary in the offseason (from Colorado) also has a very short history against Montreal, having played them only three times previously, but he has been dangerous putting up 4 points in limited ice time.

The Flames last played on Sunday night in Vancouver. They had a 3-1 lead early in the 3rd period, however the much stronger Canucks came storming back to eventually win the game 5-4. The Flames are not a team to be taken lightly as coach Bob Hartley has them competing hard every night. If the Canadiens are to win this game they will need to equal the work effort of the Flames and use their superior skill set and depth to carry them.

This will be only the fifth time Canadiens' netminder Carey Price has squared off with the Flames. In previous meetings, he has posted rather pedestrian numbers of a 3.97 GAA and an .865 save percentage. Price has been off to an excellent start, most recently stopping 22 of 23 shots in the Habs 4-1 victory over the Flyers Saturday night.

Lars Eller has been the Habs leader in the early goings here, putting up 5 points in only 2 games. In both games he has been the Canadiens best forward and his performance thus far had his named as the NHL's second star last week. The young Dane has 4 points in 5 career meetings against the Calgary Flames.

Sophomore Alex Galchenyuk has also been on fire in the early goings for Montreal assisting on 4 goals through 2 games. This will be his first career meeting with the Flames.

Max Pacioretty sat out the Canadiens game on Saturday with an apparent shoulder injury he suffered in the season opener against Toronto. He is in Calgary with the team and is expected to play tonight. Captain Brian Gionta did not travel with the team due to family reasons, however he is expected to rejoin them this afternoon and will be in the lineup tonight.

The Habs last played on Saturday at home against Philadelphia. The younger, faster, well conditioned Canadiens were too much for the Flyers to handle. Montreal took over much of the game. The Power-Play has been an area of concern for the bleu-blanc-rouge early on, it clicked for 2 goals against the Flyers but came up empty on seven other occasions. It also struggled against Toronto.

Former Hab Mike Cammalleri has yet to make his season debut and will not play tonight. Former Leaf Matt Stajan remains sidelined with a leg contusion. For the Habs, as is usually the case, the list of the walking wounded is much longer. Defenseman Alexei Emelin had off-season knee surgery and will not play until the end of November at the earliest. He has been skating on his own. Davis Drewiske injured his shoulder during training camp, but should be back in a couple of weeks. Newly acquired Douglas Murray has yet to debut for the Habs. He suffered an upper-body injury during training camp, but should be ready to bring his brand of physicality to the Montreal lineup within a couple of weeks as well. George Parros remains sidelined indefinitely with post concussion syndrome.

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