Tonight is a sort of homecoming, as the Montreal Canadiens play host to the Florida Panthers.
Alex Kovalev will make his return to the Bell Center for the first time since signing with the Panthers just before the season began.
Kovalev, who has always been a fan favourite here in Montreal will most likely get a warm welcome from the fans in attendance, but the boys on the ice needn’t be so kind.
Since the beginning of the season, Kovalev has racked up 1 Goal and 2 Assists to lead his team in the stats department, showing that he is still a player to be reckoned with. And we all know how good ex-Habs are at coming into the Bell Center and reeking havoc on La Flanelle.
Unfortunately, Montreal has not been overly fortunate playing against their Florida rivals in the past number of ventures, having been unable to defeat them in the last four outings – going back to October 24th, 2011.
To top things off, Panthers coach Kevin Dineen will go with backup goaltender Scott Clemmensen between the pipes tonight. That isn’t necessarily good news for le Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge. They’ve had far more success against Jose Theodore (2-2-1 with a 4.62 GAA) than Clemmensen (6-0-0 with a 1.68 GAA).
Habs coach Michel Therrien was busy this morning making several line adjustments, trying to find answers to the difficulties of Saturday nights home opening loss to the Leafs. Alex Galchenyuk looks to be moving to the third line to play his natural center position between Brendan Gallagher and Brandon Prust.
This move would most likely force Lars Eller to sit tonight – not a popular decision to many of the media and fans.
Montreal will be looking to kickstart the top two lines with more aggressive play. More movement to the net and removing the Panthers ability to contain them to the outside.
The biggest key to victory for the Habs tonight will be to stay disciplined and out of the penalty box. The Panthers Powerplay is at 33.3% while the Habs Penalty Kill is at 60%.
Carey Price will also be instrumental in notching two points tonight as well, which means the defensive unit in front of him will need to pick up the slack from their performance Saturday.
At the end of the day, it’s only game two, but now is the time to get the ball rolling in the right direction.