Game Day: Devils @ Canadiens
The New Jersey Devils are in town tonight to face-off against the Montreal Canadiens for the second time in a week. The Devils are currently riding a three-game win streak that they will be looking to add to, while the Canadiens squad will hope to bounce back after a heart-breaking 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday
The big story heading in to a game between the Devils and Canadiens is usually about how Martin Brodeur unstoppable in the Bell Centre. While that may be true, something else is stealing the headlines on this day.
The Montreal Canadiens have fired head coach Jacques Martin after a terrible start to the season, much to the relief of the legions of Habs faithful who have been calling for his head these past couple of months. Randy Cunneyworth will step in as interim head coach in Jacques Martin's absence, a move that many people hope does not become permanent. That being said, those same people are just glad Martin is as far away from the bench as possible.
Of course, there is still a hockey game to be played, and a very important one at that. The Canadiens and Devils have been battling back-and-forth to get into the top-eight of the Eastern Conference for quite some time now, but they aren't the only ones. There are seven teams within three points of each other, ranging from the sixth seed Buffalo Sabres down to the 12th seed Winnipeg Jets. Getting into a temporary playoff spot won't be easy with so many teams trying to do the exact same thing, but coming out of tonight’s game with two points will be a huge step forward.
The hard part is to actually get those two points. Especially when the opposing goaltender is Martin Brodeur. Brodeur is always a force to be reckoned with when he visits the Bell Centre, going 5-0-0 in his last 5 visits, and having a career record of 40-18-5 against the Canadiens. Brodeur doesn't often lose to the Habs, and unless something happens between now and game-time, Brodeur will get the start. Of course, Carey Price isn't too shabby a netminder either, and will look to keep the Devils goals to a minimum.
That job won't be easy for Price however, as Zach Parise has seemingly returned to his elite form, and along with his line-mates of Adam Henrique and Ilya Kovalchuk, helped the Devils light up the Dallas Stars last night in a 6-3 beat-down. The re-emergence of Parise will be welcomed in New Jersey, as he could help spark the Devils offence which has only put up 85 goals so far this season. He should also provide a boost to their power play unit if he can keep it up, which is ranked 27th in the league. If Parise can help the Devils power play improve, they will have one of the best special teams in the league, considering their penalty kill is already statistically best in the league. That is, however, a big if.
On the injury front, the Canadiens are still missing the General back on the blue-line in Andrei Markov, who isn't expected to return until after the All-Star break. The Habs will also be without forwards Travis Moen, Scott Gomez and captain Brian Gionta. The Devils will be missing defenseman Andy Greene tonight as he has suffered from a broken foot.
It won't be an easy win for the Canadiens, who have already had trouble winning at home, going just 5-6-6 in the Bell Centre so far this season. However, it will be an important one, and tonight's game should be a good one.
The Canadiens will look to win their first game in the post-Martin era tonight, and the puck drops at 7:00 PM ET. You can catch the game, as always, on RDS, and on CBC depending on your region.