Carey Price gets the nod again tonight as the Habs face the young, but dangerous NY Islanders. Only a point separate these two Eastern Conference teams and as admittedly foolish as it is to put too much stock in the early-season standings, it is not foolish to say that there is already mid-season tension between these two clubs. The last time they met Michael Cammalleri was possessed by the ghost of Todd Bertuzzi (wait he still lives?) while he chased after Isles rookie Nino Niederreiter. You can bet there will be some residual hate left over from the final pre-season match tonight. Montreal will need to be weary of taking any dumb penalties early on in the game. They will also need to be weary of John Tavares who is coming off of a hat-trick in his last game in a losing cause against the Panthers last Saturday. Getting out on the attack against a team returning from a longer layoff would help.
Many will be watching Alex Picard tonight in one of his final opportunities to cement a spot on the NHL roster before Andrei Markov returns from his injury this weekend. I’ve thought that Picard has been rather lucky that a few of his mistakes haven’t ended up in the back of the net – although to be fair, he has been involved in some good play on the offensive side of things. Still, with Markov, PK, Spacek, and Hamrlik in the lineup – it will be defensive steadiness that wins the job for either Picard or O’Byrne.
I’ll also be looking to see if Jaques Martin finally juggles his lines to the one configuration just about everyone in the Habs’ universe has been calling for : Gomez, Gionta, Eller. Sure its not the perfect fit in that Eller is more comfortable as a centre, but is there any doubt as to what Eller would bring to that line? He has all of the skills that martin is looking for: confidence with the puck, the ability to distribute in traffic, the ability to go to the front of the net, defensive responsibility. In my eyes, if its not Pouliot – its Eller.
Thats all for now. Go Habs Go!!!!