Montreal goes into the game coming off of a very disappointing weekend that saw them fall to Columbus in a shootout then Toronto, the following night, in what coach, Guy Carbonneau, has called the most embarrassing game he has been a part of in his 2 1/2 years behind the bench of the Canadiens.
Ottawa enters tonight's contest after losing to Carolina last Friday, but have been very hot of late (4-1-1 in their last 6 games) in front of surprise standout starter, Alex Auld, who currently leads the league in GAA.
Both teams will ice a healthy roster tonight, though neither has seen consistent production from their top players so far in this young season:
- For Ottawa, Dany Heatley continues to score goals like they're going out of style, though Jason Spezza has been struggling with only 1 point in his last 5 games. The Senators have been consistently plagued by a lack of secondary scoring, and will need Mike Fisher and Antoine Vermette in particular to supply more offense.
- Despite the hype surrounding their ability to ice three offensive lines this season, the Habs have not had more than one effective line on any given night. Alex Tanguay continues to lead the team in scoring with 7 goals and is tied with Andrei Markov atop the club's point leaders with 14. Expected to be dynamic threats for the Canadiens, Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn have been lackluster to date and will need to inject more intensity into their games. The Kostitsyn factor will be particularly relevant in the case of older brother, Andrei, whose return to top form will be vital to the resurgence of last season's top trio alongside Alex Kovalev and Thomas Plekanec.
Having endured heavy criticism following their seeming complacency against Columbus and Toronto, Montreal will look to rebound in a big way tonight by putting together a more complete game, from end to end. Ottawa, meanwhile, is making a concerted effort to silence the naysayers and will be looking to make a statement of their own against divisional foes on a National Stage (TSN; 7:00 p.m.).
Whichever team can find a way to fire on all cylinders (as neither has been able to do thus far) will emerge victorious from what promises to be a hard-fought and highly entertaining game.