GAMETIME: 6:30 Central
When the Hawks biffed that game against Columbus a couple weeks ago, a few friends and I remarked, "Well, at least were not the Canadiens." In what was supposed to be a coronation on their 100th anniversary, the Canadiens have been an overturned clown car. On the times they've been sober enough to get on the ice, they've shown a distrubing lack of spark and fight. The power play, which was leaving scorched Earth behind it last season, has been a mess with the departure of Mark Streit and the disinterest of Alex Kovalev. Kovalev is an interesting study, and he offends almost all serious hockey fans (including one Matt McClure). Most experts will tell you that Kovalev is probably one of the five most talented guys in the league. He just doesn't botther to bring it half the time. When he bothers, the Canadiens are a different team. When he's not, they're a bunch of drunks wandering around the ice. Another problem is this team has 15 free agents this summer, and it wouldn't be wrong to ponder if some of these guys have started looking out for themselves instead of the cause. Captain Saku Koivu has spent most of the season in a mope.
The Habs come into this not exactly on fire. They're 2-3-3 in their last 8, and blew a third period lead to the Sabres last time out. Their goaltending has been a mess, with both Price and Halak showing brilliance at times, and buffoonery at others. I would imagine Price gets the start tonight. The Centre de Molson used to be considered a tough place to win, and still can be But you get the feeling if the Hawks jump out to a lead, the crowd will turn on these guys in a hurry, and the Canadiens haven't exactly resembled a team with a strong mentality unless chasing the Frenchie poon.
The Hawks should come out angry. Though again, I didn't think they were AWFUL on Sunday -- they came up against a team that played flawlessly -- they still got smacked pretty good. They've all talked after that about coming out with no fire, and you'd think they'd be aiming to turn that around in a hurry. Do so, and it's likely the Habs will shrink like a frozen pecker. Also, a win would hop the Hawks over the Flames, which is looking likely to be very important. Though the idea of Iginla breathing fire against you in the playoffs is scary, Luongo's scarier.