Today’s game against the Flames is important for many obvious reasons. The Canadiens have 69 points and are three points clear of the New York Rangers for the East’s sixth seed. The Canadiens are also four points behind Boston for first place in the Northeast Division. Keeping pace in the East has been extremely difficult for the Habs due to injuries to key players. It is crazy that a novelty game such as today’s Outdoor Classic could have such serious repercussions in the standings. It is true for both teams. Calgary sits tenuously in 9th place and should be very hungry to continue their recent hot streak.
Montreal should have Hal Gill and Michael Cammilleri back in the lineup which will at the very least bolster the depth of the lineup which was tested over the course of the past few games. Paul Mara is also expected to make his Canadiens “re-debut” today. It will be interesting to see to what degree any of the players being re-insterted can be effective.
To win in this type of atmosphere you really need to cut down on mistakes and odd-man rushes. All of the players will be battling the elements – and so I expect the Canadiens to play a very conservative style. Given the flux of the defensive corps, you can guess that Martin will be employing a very simple system of clearing the puck at the first opportunity and worrying about offense later.
I hope everyone is warm inside watching this one. The puck drops just after 6PM EST.
Go Habs Go!!