A western road-trip is always a love hate type of deal for me. I love the opportunity to see the Canadiens play against teams they very rarely face. I hate the fact that I have to stay up until all hours of the night to do it (though this swing isn’t like the visits to LA and San Jose). I love being able to see the support the Canadiens have even in far-off places like Colorado and Dallas. I hate seeing those fans go home quiet and sad because we lost. Face it – west coast swings are not our forté. They have always been a source of pain for Habs fans – because primarily – the West has been better than the East for some time. While the landscape of the NHL has changed recently – with the emergence of Philadelphia, Washington, Pittsburgh (heck how about the THRASHERS?), the west remains a conference filled with potential for disaster for visiting Eastern teams.
The Dallas Stars suffered what can only be described as a two write-off seasons in the recent past. Troubles with ownership, players, attendance, (just about everything) conspired to net a last place finish in the Pacific Division in 09-10. This year has been very different however.
Dallas has been (to the surprise of many) a VERY good team this year posting a 20-10-3 record through 33 games. Particularly troubling for the visiting Canadiens is their 11-3-2 record as the host team. Buoyed by the fantastic scoring of Brad Richards who has ammassed 15 goals and 23 assists for 38 points in 33 games, the stars have developed their own talent (and technically one of ours) into a formidable top 6 that includes: Loui Erickson (34), James Neal (28), Mike Ribeiro (26), Brenden Morrow (20), and Jamie Benn (18). That is some great scoring from the offensive Stars.
I also wanted to mention that anyone following the standings in the Eastern Conference will notice that the Habs occupy 3rd spot in the Conference even though they currently have the second LEAST amount of points for playoff teams. They occupy that spot by virtue of leading the Northeast Division. If the Habs remain in the top spot in the division, they will remain in 3rd place or better. If the Bruins pass the Canadiens in the standings, the Habs will be in a dog fight to keep up with the other teams in the division. With so many teams going strong in the east, it would behoove the Canadiens to put some distance between themselves and the Bruins to ensure that they continue to hold onto home ice advantage for any potential playoff matchup. The top 8 teams are very evenly matched in the East – so any advantage is huge.
The puck drops at 9PM tonight. Go Habs Go!!!