Canadiens cut ties with Laraque
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The Canadiens have played the Devils well so far this season but have yet to pick up a win against them. They’d certainly like to change that tonight when the two clubs face off at the Prudential Center in New Jersey (7 PM ET).
Eight teams are battling for three spots in the Eastern Conference standings, with five separating sixth place (New York Rangers) and 13th place (Tampa Bay Lightning).
Montreal sits 11th in the mix with 51 points; a victory over Martin Brodeur and Co. would lift the team into a tie for ninth with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Pouliot powering on: It wasn’t easy for Habs fans to constantly read about Guillaume Latendresse’s success in Minnesota while Benoit Pouliot recovered from an injured wrist. Clearly, the wait was worth it.
Pouliot has been on fire since making his Canadiens debut, potting eight goals in 13 games. Wednesday’s overtime loss saw him light the lamp twice, marking just the second time in his young career he’s had a two-goal game. The previous one came on March 22, 2008 against Calgary.
Gionta returns to the Garden State: Nursing a broken foot the last time his new team visited the Devils, Brian Gionta will arrive at the rink tonight as a visitor in New Jersey for the first time in his career. Designated as an alternate captain at the start of the season, the winger’s leadership wasn’t lost on his former teammates.
“He plays the game the right way. It’s always good to have a guy like that [in the locker room] because then when he says something, it really means something,” Devils forward (and former Hab) Dainius Zubrus told the New York Post.
Gionta has certainly been doing his part on the ice of late, with five points in his last four games.
Lineup notes: Sergei Kostitsyn was on the ice for the team’s optional skate this morning but isn’t ready to return just yet. After a brief stint as a forward, Ryan O’Byrne drops out of the lineup while Matt D’Agostini draws back in.
Jaroslav Halak, who matched Brodeur save for save back on Jan. 9 at the Bell Centre, gets the start in the opener of a back-to-back set.
Both of the two previous meetings have finished with 2-1 scores.
Scouting the Devils
Year in and year out, the Devils and winning tend to go hand in hand in the regular season and 2009-10 is no different. But while they sit atop the Atlantic Division, the team recently endured its first three-game losing streak of the season, falling to the Coyotes, Avalanche and Islanders. The Devils were outscored 11-4 in those contests before snapping the skid with a 2-0 win over the Florida Panthers on Wednesday.
Looking for power: Two weeks ago, New Jersey’s matchup with Tampa Bay was suspended due to a partial power outage in the Prudential Center. Oddly enough, the Devils would deal with another outage, one that has yet to be fixed.
Against the Lightning that night – and in the game’s conclusion two days later – Jacques Lemaire’s squad went 0-for-4 on the power play. It would kick off a lengthy drought with the man advantage that has since extended to an 0-for-21 run, including that tilt.
Travis trucking along: While most outside of New Jersey are well aware of what Zach Parise can do, linemate Travis Zajac is by that notion quietly having another solid season. He sits third in team scoring with 37 points and earlier this month recorded three consecutive multi-point games, including a goal and an assist in the win over the Canadiens.
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