The battle of the bottom feeders begins tonight.
Montreal is 5th in the Northeast Division with an underwhelming 24 points, but even that is a better sight than the Ducks' measly 16 points (16 points!!!). I feel as though tonight is a make or break game. One could say that at this point, every game is a make or break game. We are quickly approaching the halfway point of the season, and tonight's game will provide a golden opportunity for the Ducks to capitalize on the weaknesses of another struggling team. The Ducks have won 4 of the last 5 games that they've played against Montreal. And if we step up tonight, this game could be the confidence booster that turns the season around. If we lose, we will have to deal with the humiliation of losing to a 'bad' team. And if we don't right the ship soon, 2011-12 will quickly become a lost season.
But we're not there yet. And the Canadiens are not impossible to solve. Goaltender Carey Price, in particular, has never won a game aganist the Ducks. No one knows if the Price-dominating Ducks will show up at the Ponda Center tonight, but it will be important for us to strike often and early. I imagine that Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne will be responsible for the bulk of the 'striking,' but Devante Smith-Pelly, Maxime Macenauer, Nicklas Hagman, and Ben Maxwell all have the potential to hit the back of the net. I know it's been rough, everyone, but don't forget that Perry has scored three goals in the past three games. I predict that DSP will score. It's just a feeling.
The Ducks will also benefit from the absence of Max Pacioretty, who currently leads Montreal in goals. He has been suspended for three games after hitting the head of Pittsburgh's Kris Letang during the Canadiens' 4-3 overtime loss on Sunday. Yet, we may have to contend with Andrei Markov - also known as Montreal's version of Lubomir Visnovsky. Markov could potentially return to Montreal's lineup tonight after being hampered by a knee injury for over a year. If Markov returns, he will provide new vigor to Montreal's lackluster power play. Thus, the obvious: Stay out of the box, RPG!
And speaking of RPG: I wish you would keep them together, Randy. Carlyle has clearly bought into the Bruce Boudreau Random Line Generator approach, and it reeks of desperation. Bobby Ryan is not a third-liner.
Do it for Saku Koivu, guys. And please, Toni, do not become the victim of a PK Subban spin-o-rama goal.