Canadiens vs. Red Wings preview

 

 
 
 
 
MONTREAL, QUE.: FEBRUARY 26, 2014 -- Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock wears a McGill University tie behind the bench during National Hockey League game against the Canadiens in Montreal Wednesday February 26, 2014.  (John Mahoney  / THE GAZETTE) ORG XMIT: 49288-3725
 
 

MONTREAL, QUE.: FEBRUARY 26, 2014 -- Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock wears a McGill University tie behind the bench during National Hockey League game against the Canadiens in Montreal Wednesday February 26, 2014. (John Mahoney / THE GAZETTE) ORG XMIT: 49288-3725

Photograph by: John Mahoney, Montreal Gazette

DETROIT AT MONTREAL
(Tuesday at the Bell Centre, 7:30 p.m., CITYM, RDS, TSN Radio 690)

Setting the stage: The Canadiens have relied on offence to forge a 5-1 record, but they’ll face a difficult task as they confront a Detroit team that is one of the stingiest in the NHL. The Red Wings shut out the Maple Leafs 1-0 Saturday night in Toronto to run their record to 3-1-1 with a 1.40 goals-against average. The Canadiens have a goals-against average of 3.33, but Carey Price put together his best performance of the season Saturday night as he limited the Colorado Avalanche to two goals on 30 shots in a 3-2 win at the Bell Centre.

Early surprises: Tomas Plekanec has been given an opportunity to play a larger offensive role and leads the Canadiens with seven points, including four goals, while 20-year-old linemate Alex Galchenyuk is also on a point-a-game pace with two goals and four assists in six games. Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist is proving to be another of those European gems unearthed by Red Wings scout Hakan Andersson. The 2008 fourth-round pick (121st overall) has four goals and an assist in five games.

Third line lagging: Lars Eller is doing a great job in the faceoff circle for the Canadiens with a 55.7 per cent success rate, but he and linemates Rene Bourque and rookie Jiri Sekac are struggling at both ends of the ice. The line has produced only one goal – by Sekac – and is a combined minus-17. Canadiens coach Michel Therrien announced after Tuesday’s morning skate that Sekac would be a healthy scratch against the Red Wings with Dale Weise taking the rookie’s spot in the lineup. Weise had been a healthy scratch for the last two games.

Specialty items: The Canadiens have scored three power-play goals in the past two games, but rank 17th in the NHL with a success rate of 15 per cent. The Red Wings are 17-for-17 on the penalty kill to lead the NHL, while the Canadiens rank 18th with an 80 per cent success rate.

Questions for Babcock: Detroit coach Mike Babcock might have to answer a question or two about his future. His contract runs out after this season and there is continuing speculation that he is interested in moving to Montreal or Toronto. Babcock used to sneak into the Forum to watch the Canadiens when he was a student at McGill, but Michel Therrien is secure behind the bench here. Toronto might be a better fit because Randy Carlyle is unlikely to survive beyond this season and the Leafs have the money to make Babcock an offer he can’t refuse.

Injury update: The Canadiens are healthy. Pavel Datsyuk has yet to play this season for the Red Wings because of a shoulder injury, but is expected to face the Canadiens. Johan Franzen (leg cramps) is listed as day-to-day after missing Saturday’s game. Goaltender Jimmy Howard missed Saturday’s game with a groin injury, but is good to go against the Canadiens. Howard was replaced by Jonas (The Monster) Gustavsson, who shut out his former team in Toronto Saturday night. Stephen Weiss, who has a $4.9-million salary-cap hit, has played only 43 games over the past two seasons because of a sports hernia. He replaced Franzen Saturday and played a shade over eight minutes.

 
 
 
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MONTREAL, QUE.: FEBRUARY 26, 2014 -- Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock wears a McGill University tie behind the bench during National Hockey League game against the Canadiens in Montreal Wednesday February 26, 2014.  (John Mahoney  / THE GAZETTE) ORG XMIT: 49288-3725
 

MONTREAL, QUE.: FEBRUARY 26, 2014 -- Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock wears a McGill University tie behind the bench during National Hockey League game against the Canadiens in Montreal Wednesday February 26, 2014. (John Mahoney / THE GAZETTE) ORG XMIT: 49288-3725

Photograph by: John Mahoney, Montreal Gazette

 
MONTREAL, QUE.: FEBRUARY 26, 2014 -- Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock wears a McGill University tie behind the bench during National Hockey League game against the Canadiens in Montreal Wednesday February 26, 2014.  (John Mahoney  / THE GAZETTE) ORG XMIT: 49288-3725
Montreal Canadiens’ Brian Gionta, left to right, Max Pacioretty and Thomas Vanek, right, joke around on the bench during scrimmage at practice in Brossard, Que., Friday, April 25, 2014. The Canadiens will face either the Boston Bruins or the Detroit Red Wings in the second round of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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