The Montreal Canadiens are never an easy team to face, especially in their own building, and right now they may be even more dangerous than usual. Shut out in each of their last three games (losing 2-0 to Buffalo, 7-0 to Boston, and 2-0 to Washington) the Canadiens are on edge and in danger of slipping from sixth place to seventh or eighth in the East. Mathematically they could still drop out of the playoff hunt entirely, but with Carolina seven points behind them in ninth with six games left on Montreal’s schedule that seems unlikely.
Regardless, the pressure is squarely on the shoulders of the Canadiens tonight as they try to get back on track and relieve some of the enormous pressure put on them by their fans and the Montreal media.
For the Thrashers it’s much simpler- they have to win to keep their very slim playoff hopes alive. They don’t have to worry about a range of possible outcomes, because if they don’t win out they simply aren’t going to make it. Nine points out with 14 points available, the Thrashers can’t afford a loss, even though they can’ t be mathematically eliminated tonight.
Tonight’s game at the Bell Center marks Ben Maxwell’s first game back in Montreal since being acquired from the Canadiens on February 24 along with a draft pick in exchange Brent Sopel and Nigel Dawes. Maxwell picked up his first NHL goal and assist on Sunday versus Ottawa, giving him two points and an even rating in five games with the Thrashers. On the other side of the trade ledger Brent Sopel has no points and is -1 in seven games for Montreal and recently returned from a hand injury. Nigel Dawes was reassigned to Montreal’s AHL team in Hamilton after being held scoreless in four games.
According to the AJC’s Chris Vivlamore Ondrej Pavelec will be back in goal tonight and Anthony Stewart will be the scratch after not making the trip to Montreal due to a paperwork issue. Vivlamore says he’ll rejoin the team in Philly for Thursday’s game.
You can catch the game on FS South at 7:30. What’s your prediction for the outcome?