Blackhawks face the Habs in Montréal on Saturday
The Chicago Blackhawks will face another Original Six team on Saturday night as they play the Canadiens at the Bell Centre in Montréal.
Last year, the Canadiens completely missed the playoffs and languished near the bottom of the league for most of the shortened season. This year, the team has turned around completely: with a 25-15-5 record and 55 points, they're sitting at third in the Atlantic division. They have a strong penalty kill - 3rd best in the league, at 86.3%.
Additionally, eight Habs will be representing their home country in the Olympics: Carey Price and P.K. Subban for Canada; Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin for Russia; Max Pacioretty for the U.S.; Raphael Diaz for Switzerland; goalie Peter Budaj for Slovakia; and Tomas Plekanec, who will serve as captain for the Czech team.
Subban currently leads his team in points, assists, power-play points, and +/- rating, but he found himself benched this week for part of a game. Expect to see plenty of the reigning Norris Trophy winner in tonight's game.
For Price (20-11-4, .928 sv%, 2.22 GAA), Saturday night's game against the high-flying offensive powerhouse Blackhawks will provide a good yardstick for the Olympics.
Corey Crawford (17-7-5, .910 sv%, 2.49 GAA) will be in goal for the Blackhawks. Crawford grew up in the Montréal area, in nearby Châteauguay, so visits to the Bell Centre are always special for him. One would also think that in light of being left off Team Canada's roster, that Crawford will want to have an outstanding game versus Price, who is currently expected to be the primary backup for that team.
So far this season, the Blackhawks have done very well against the Eastern Conference, going 11-2-3, and they hope to add to the win column -- thus breaking a streak of not winning on Montréal ice since December 3, 2001.
Coach Quenneville tried out some new lines on Friday morning in practice in Chicago, moving Marcus Krüger up to the second line as center. Lines were mixed a bit in practice, but expect Krüger to see plenty of time on that line Saturday night.
Game: 7 p.m. EST / 6 p.m. CST, Bell Centre, Montréal
Viewing info: NHLN-US, CBC, RDS; radio - Chicago WGN 720 AM; Canadiens' radio feed via their website in both English and French.
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