Guy Boucher and the Tampa Bay Lightning are facing the Montreal Canadiens for the first time since the rookie head coach earned his first career victory in Montreal on October 13th. Can the Habs, losers of their last two, turn things around on this sudden downward spiral? Will Steven Stamkos leave 2010 in style with an offensive outburst? Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, you know Carey Price would…
Montreal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 PM ET)
Les Canadiens are without Andrei Markov (forever) and Josh Gorges (day-to-day), but that matters not as Jacques Martin will get to try out a brand new defenceman tonight with James Wisniewski. The Canadiens have scored just once in their last two games, but have had great goaltending from Carey Price in back-to-back losses.
Tampa’s “big three” have been rolling as of late, Vincent Lecavalier has found his touch with four goals over the last three games while Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis both have five points in those contests.
Our Prediction: We like the Habs chances for a strong effort, but we’re banking on a bit of a party from Stamkos-St. Louis-Lecavalier. Whatever the final score, give Wisniewski two assists. Tampa Bay by a three goal margin.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Detroit Red Wings (7:30 PM ET)
Vancouver toppled the Red Wings 6-4 the last time they face each other. The Canucks will try for a similar result tonight, only this time it’s in Detroit where the Red Wings are 12-4-3. A win for Detroit would put them back on top of the Conference after relinquishing the lead to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. Winners of four in a row, the Northwest Division leading Canucks are on quite a roll going 8-1-1 over their last ten games. We couldn’t really ask for a better match up for this evening.
Obligatory Red Wings and Canucks Nostalgia
Our Prediction: Roberto Luongo and Ryan Kesler are at the top of their respective games right now, the Canucks will need to beat Detroit if they expect to be kings of the West. We’ll give Vancouver the edge tonight in a close one.
Ryan Getzlaf has registered five goals and eight points in his last six games with Anaheim, you could say he’s on a hot streak. Six of the Bruins’ last seven games have been decided by one goal, so bank on this one being a tight game.
Two original six teams meet tonight in a battle for Chris Chelios’ heart. It’s the Red Wings and Hawks at the United Center.
Detroit Red Wings vs. Chicago Blackhawks (8:30 PM ET)
The Chicago Blackhawks are finding out just how difficult it is to live up to Stanley Cup expectations. The Hawks are sitting in the basement of the competitive Central Division while the Red Wings have established themselves as the class of the West yet again in 2010-11. If they Blackhawks intend to march back to the finals they’ll have to find a way to get past the mighty Red Wings.
Chicago has a respectable road record of 8-5-3, but Detroit is a powerhouse at home with a impressive 12-4-2 mark. The Red Wings already have one win over the Hawks at home this season, and they look like the favourites heading into tonight’s game as Chicago is dealing with injuries to Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane.
Hot Streaks: Both clubs have had some offensive contributions from unlikely sources as of late. Dan Cleary has five points in four games for Detroit while Bryan Bickell has six points in 5 games. Jonathan Toews has seven points over the last five games for Chicago, too. Nicklas Lidstrom registered his first career hat-trick and four points versus the Blues on Wednesday.
Cold Streaks: Goaltending has been the biggest question mark in Chicago this season, Corey Crawford is coming off of three straight losses and will get the call tonight. Jimmy Howard has allowed 17 goals against in his last five starts.
Our Prediction: Beware of Nicklas Lidstrom and the skilled Wings. This should be a good contest as Chicago is desperately looking to get their season on track. We’ll take Detroit in a shootout.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers 7:00 ET
We’ll be quick here as Ron Barr’s internet access has been acting up like it’s dial-up in 1995. It’s the battle of Pennsylvania, and both teams are hot. You can’t stop the Crosby train, you just can’t.