Habs announce Haiti donation
Practice report: Jan. 19, 2010
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Nearly three months remain in the season but for the Canadiens, the playoffs start now. Sitting 12th in the East with six points and several teams between them and fifth place, Jacques Martin’s squad will aim to get back on track tonight against the St. Louis Blues at the Bell Centre.
Goals, anyone? If you want wings at a Cage aux Sports restaurant, you’ll have to actually pay for them yourself. That’s because the Canadiens’ offence has scored a combined nine goals in six of the seven games played thus far in 2010, never producing more than a pair in those contests. The lone exception was last week against the Stars, when the team found the back of the net five times to earn its fans free wings.
The Blues play tomorrow night in Ottawa and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch expects journeyman backup Ty Conklin to face Montreal tonight. That might help the Habs; Conklin is 1-3-0 in his career against the club, with a 3.54 goals-against average and .837 save percentage.
No young pup: In need of some help up front, the Canadiens turned to the Hamilton Bulldogs. But rather than call for a jolt of youth, the team opted for a veteran presence in the form of Mathieu Darche. Darche, 33, had 25 points in 32 games at the time of his call up, though he’s been quieter so far this month.
The Montreal native has appeared in 101 NHL games over the course of his career; the majority of those (73) came with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He’ll skate alongside Tomas Plekanec and Michael Cammalleri, replacing Matt D’Agostini who will join Georges Laraque in the press box.
Ryan O’Byrne finally draws back in as Martin dresses eight defencemen. O’Byrne is expected to line up as a forward.
Carey Price gets the start.
A look at the St. Louis Blues
This wasn’t how the season was supposed to go. After an impressive second half run in 2008-09 that catapulted the Blues into sixth place in the West and their first playoff appearance since 2004, expectations were naturally raised. Unfortunately, the team struggled to meet them.
That combined with the inability to win at home led to the demise of head coach Andy Murray on Jan. 2; he was replaced on an interim basis by Davis Payne, who had been guiding the club’s AHL affiliate in Peoria.
The Blues dropped their first three (one in overtime) under their new bench boss, then reeled off four straight before that streak was snapped by the Blue Jackets on Monday night. In the middle of a three-game road trip, the team has faltered of late on opposing ice; St. Louis carries a 1-3-1 record in its last five away from the Scottrade Center.
Payne’s crew has 49 points this season and sits 13th in the Western Conference, eight points out of the eighth and final playoff berth.
No penalty killing blues: As the Canadiens try to improve their record at home on the power play, they’ll be in tough against the Blues. The club is fourth in the NHL in penalty killing at 86% overall; they’ve been even better on the road, where they’ve successfully held of 87.6% of opposing advantages, tops in the league.
Third period stumbles: One reason for the Blues’ struggles this season can likely be attributed to their knack for giving up too many goals in the third period. St. Louis has allowed 52 goals, the most of the three frames. Comparatively, the team has lit the lamp just 40 times in the final 20 minutes of regulation.