All Habs Weekly Forecast: Post-Christmas Road Trip Provides Test for Habs

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(Photo by Getty Images)

by Tyler Prater, Staff Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

(Photo by Getty Images)

LEXINGTON, KY — This upcoming week the Canadiens resume their road trip, making stops in Carolina, Florida, New Jersey, and finishing on Saturday in Pittsburgh. The Habs won their only game last week 3-1 against the hot, New York Islanders and look to get back on the ice after their short Christmas break.

The 2015 IIHF World Junior Championships continue at the Bell Centre (and Air Canada Centre in Toronto) this week with Canada facing Finland on Monday and a big game with the rival US team on New Year’s Eve.

 

Calendar: December 29 – January 4
MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
Carolina Hurricanes Logo  happy new year 2015 wishes in oriya  
AWAY AWAY AWAY AWAY

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Montreal Canadiens
  • The Habs (22-11-2) are coming off a couple days of rest; ready to get back to the grind, opening the week on Monday at Carolina. Montreal has dropped to third place in the Atlantic Division and eighth in the league with 46 points. They are 6-4-0 in their last ten games.
Players to Watch
  • Andrei Markov. The 36-year-old defenceman is sixth on the team with 19 points, six of those points coming from his last five games, including a goal last week against the Islanders.
  • David Desharnais. The Laurier-Station, QC native has five points in his last five games, while also scoring last week against the Islanders.
Strengths (+) Weaknesses (-)
  • The Habs’ goaltending remains outstanding along with their defence helping allow an average of only 2.37 goals a game (7th).
  • The Canadiens put themselves in a tough position every game, allowing an average of 30.2 shots against while only getting 27.5 shots for themselves (28th). Not taking as many shots per game has been hurting their offence, averaging 2.6 goals a game.

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Monday

Carolina Hurricanes
  • The Hurricanes (10-21-4) are coming off a 2-1 loss against Tampa Bay last Saturday and have had a disappointing December, only winning three games. Carolina is expecting centre, Jordan Staal to make his season debut Monday after recovering from a broken leg in the preseason. The Hurricanes are in eighth place in the Metropolitan Division and 29th in the league with 24 points. They are 1-7-2 in their last ten games played.
Players to Watch
  • Andrej Sekera. Sekera has two points in his last two games, including the only Carolina goal last week in their loss to Tampa Bay.
  • Justin Faulk. Leading the Hurricanes in points, Faulk has three in his last five games, including two short-handed goals this season (4th).
Strengths (+) Weaknesses (-)
  • The Hurricanes are struggling all over the board but one area they have done well in is their penalty-kill. At 84.7 per cent, it could be tough for the Habs to generate any offence with a man advantage.
  • It’s hard to win games when you don’t score goals and Carolina is struggling to put the puck in the net, averaging only two goals a game (29th).
Matchup
Monday December 29 | Raleigh, NC.

CANADIENS  (statistics as of December 28, 2014) HURRICANES
46 (8th) Points 24 (29th)
9-7-1 (away) Home/Away Record 6-7-2 (home)
2.60 (19th) Goals per game 2.00 (29th)
2.37 (7th) Goals Against per game 2.63 (15th)
27.5 (28th) Shots per game 29.3 (21st)
30.2 (20th) Shots Against per game 28.0 (8th)
15.3% (23rd) Power-play 17.1% (19th)
86.3% (6th) Penalty-kill 84.7% (9th)

Season Series

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Tuesday

Florida Panthers
  • The Panthers (16-9-8) are coming off a 6-4 win against Toronto last Sunday and start their week Tuesday against Montreal. Florida is fifth in the Atlantic Division and 18th in the league with 40 points. They are 6-2-2 in their last ten games.
Players to Watch
  • Jussi Jokinen. The Finnish left wing is second on the team with 19 points, gathering three in his last two games played.
  • Jimmy Hayes. Hayes has gotten three goals in his last two games and has ten this season.
Strengths (+) Weaknesses (-)
  • Florida’s defence and goaltending has helped make them a tough opponent, averaging only 2.4 goals against (9th).
  • The Panthers struggle offensively, scoring only 2.1 goals a game (26th) as well as having a cold power-play at just 13.6 per cent.
Matchup
Tuesday December 30 | Sunrise, FL.

CANADIENS  (statistics as of December 28, 2014) PANTHERS
46 (8th) Points 40 (18th)
9-7-1 (away) Home/Away Record 9-4-2 (home)
2.60 (19th) Goals per game 2.24 (26th)
2.37 (7th) Goals Against per game 2.48 (10th)
27.5 (28th) Shots per game 31.6 (5th)
30.2 (20th) Shots Against per game 30.0 (19th)
15.3% (23rd) Power-play 13.6% (27th)
86.3% (6th) Penalty-kill 81.0% (15th)

Season Series

  • First meeting this season.

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Friday

New Jersey Devils
  • The Devils (12-18-7) last game ended in a 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers last Saturday. They will play at Detroit Wednesday and host the Habs Friday. New Jersey is seventh in the Metropolitan Division and 26th in the league with 31 points. They are 2-5-3 in their last ten games played.
Players to Watch
  • Steve Bernier. The Quebec City native has a goal and an assist in his last two games as well as a couple multi-point nights in December.
  • Tuomo Ruutu. Ruutu has three assists this season, picking of two of them in his last two games.
Strengths (+) Weaknesses (-)
  • The Devils have been impressive with a man advantage, boasting a 20.2 per cent power-play (10th).
  • While New Jersey has a strong power-play, their overall offence is pretty cold, averaging 2.08 goals a game (28th). Their penalty-kill is also struggling at 78.2 per cent.
Matchup
Friday January 2 | Newark, NJ.

CANADIENS  (statistics as of December 28, 2014) DEVILS
46 (8th) Points 31 (26th)
9-7-1 (away) Home/Away Record 4-6-5 (home)
2.60 (19th) Goals per game 2.08 (28th)
2.37 (7th) Goals Against per game 2.73 (20th)
27.5 (28th) Shots per game 25.7 (29th)
30.2 (20th) Shots Against per game 30.5 (22nd)
15.3% (23rd) Power-play 20.2% (10th)
86.3% (6th) Penalty-kill 78.2% (23rd)

Season Series

  • First meeting this season.

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Saturday

Pittsburgh Penguins
  • The Penguins (22-8-5) last game was a 3-0 loss against Washington last Saturday. They will play Tampa Bay Friday and Montreal Saturday night. Pittsburgh is in first place in the Metropolitan Division and third in the league with 49 points. They are 5-2-3 in their last ten games.
Players to Watch
  • Evgeni Malkin. The second overall pick of the 2004 draft is ninth in the league with 16 goals and fifth with 41 points. He has three points in his last three games.
  • Simon Despres. The 23-year-old from Laval, QC has nine points this season, picking up three in his last four games.
Strengths (+) Weaknesses (-)
  • The Penguins are third in the NHL for goals per game, averaging 3, as well as having the third place penalty-kill at 87.3 per cent.
  • Pittsburgh has a lot going for them but one area the Habs can attack is shots on net. The Penguins allow an average of 30.4 shots against (21st).
Matchup
Saturday January 3 | Pittsburgh, PA.

CANADIENS  (statistics as of December 28, 2014) PENGUINS
46 (8th) Points 49 (3rd)
9-7-1 (away) Home/Away Record 13-5-1 (home)
2.60 (19th) Goals per game 3.03 (3rd)
2.37 (7th) Goals Against per game 2.29 (5th)
27.5(28th) Shots per game 30.9 (10th)
30.2 (20th) Shots Against per game 30.4 (21st)
15.3% (23rd) Power-play 23.1% (6th)
86.3% (6th) Penalty-kill 87.3% (3rd)

Season Series

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