Ducks @ Canadiens Preview: Time For a New Streak

Richard Wolowicz

The Canadiens' not-too-intimidating 5-4-0 record masks the fact that they are top six in both goals scored and goals allowed. They wouldn't mind too much if Saku Koivu did some damage, would they?

Here's something you'll be hearing a lot in the next couple weeks: The Ducks are visiting the [insert some crotchety old Eastern team] for the first time since 1496, when Teemu Selanne scored high glove on Jacques Plante for the game winning goal to the disdain of a few thousand trenchcoat-wearing fans who watched the game in black and white even though they were at the arena.

Aside from the Saku Koivu storyline — this may well be his last game in the city whose team he captained for a decade — there isn't much history between these two clubs. Expect to see Travis Moen — one of my favorite players from the good old days — but don't plan on seeing George Parros, who is out indefinitely after sustaining this injury on opening night.

Keys to the Game: Reigning Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban leads all NHL defensemen — and every player on his team — with 11 points on the young season. He moves the puck up the ice as well as any player in the game today, and he loves to slalom around flat-footed defenders. This is going to sound weird, but the player he most reminds me of, at least when he has the puck, is Bobby Ryan. Whenever he is on the ice, everybody needs to be aware of where he is, and where he could be if he wanted to go there.

As is nearly always the case when the opposition employs an elite offensive defenseman, the penalty kill will need to be at their best. Any team who's second best power play blue liner is Andrei Markov is a team that can win games on the man advantage, and the Habs are 6th in the league with a 24.3% conversion rate.

Not only is Montreal dangerous when up a man, but they've also figured out a way to score when down one. The Habs are tied with Vancouver for the league lead in shorthanded goals with three, so Kyle Palmieri (and everyone else) needs to really pay attention if he plays the point on the power play.

What Can We Learn From this Game: Emerson Etem looked comfortable playing alongside Mathieu Perreault and Teemu Selanne in Toronto. Comfortable, not exceptional. We all remember his chemistry with Selanne in the playoffs last season; he will need to find that again if he wants to keep his newfound position on the second(ish) line.

Francois Beauchemin's injury has hampered (Hampused? Nevermind, sorry.) his play this season. Will the closest thing to a hometown game get him going?

And how will Koivu play in Montreal? We're all counting on the Twins to have a big night and carry the team because we're Ducks fans and we don't know any other way to approach a game, but if they turn in another performance like what we saw in Toronto, someone else is going to have to step up, and who better than the man of the hour?

Fearless Prediction: After 65 minutes and four shootout rounds, Carey Price realizes Saku Koivu hasn't scored yet and steps away from the net to give him the game winner. Someone in the Montreal media says something mean about Koivu not knowing French, but nobody understands him because he's speaking French and in my imaginary world nobody else is.

Stay tuned here for updates throughout the day (lineup news, etc.) and start commenting. We'll have a quick stats pack shortly before puck drop for the in game comments to flow.

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