If the regular season ended today the Canadiens would face the Carolina Hurricanes in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Tonight’s game at the Bell Center is a preview of a likely playoff matchup.
The Canadiens have not faired very well against the Hurricanes this year but neither have many other teams. The Hurricanes are the biggest surprise of the season and are in contention to win not only the Eastern Conference but also the President’s Trophy for the best regular season record in the NHL.
David Aebischer‘s first test as a Canadien will be a big one. Aebischer starts today and will face off against his Swiss Olympic teammate Martin Gerber. Throw Mark Streit in the mix and it’ll be the most Swiss players to ever play in the same NHL game.
If Streit does play it’ll be because Andrei Markov is still hurting and unable to lace them up. Never a good thing for the Canadiens who really miss Markov defensively and on the break out and powerplay especially.
The Canadiens can leap frog over the Lightning again tonight with a win and both teams are likely to jump back and forth several times before the season’s end. A win over Carolina would be huge for the Habs confidence and Aebischer specifically.
The worst possible outcome is a thrashing by Carolina and a David Aebischer hanging by Montreal fans and media. Tonight will be a good test to see what kind of playoff upset potential the Canadiens have. The Habs are not unfamiliar with being in 7th or 8th and upsetting 1st or 2nd in recent years. However, Carolina is a monster team this year and hopefully the Canadiens can get a more favorable matchup.