Pittsburgh Penguins Gameday 50: Montreal Canadiens

Montreal Canadiens (27-17-5) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (34-13-2)
ROOT, TSN, RDS – 7:00 pm/et 
Consol Energy Center – Pittsburgh, PA

Games against the Habs are always something to get excited about, even when they don't take place in Montreal. There's a pretty good rivalry between these two teams. Penguins assistant coach Jacques Martin is a former coach of the Habs (until 2011). Canadiens coach Michel Therrien is a former coach of the Pens (until 2009).

We looked at a few of the best Pens/Habs games in recent history earlier. This one will probably haunt us forever:

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R.I.P. Igloo.

It's basically guaranteed that something will happen tonight that will drive you nuts. We'll also probably get an exciting game.

STATS, INFO & NOTES:

Leading Scorers:

Penguins: Sidney Crosby (25G, 43A: 68P)
Canadiens: P.K. Subban (8G, 27A: 35P)

Probable Starting Goaltenders:

Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury (27-11-1, 2.33 GAA, .915 Sv% )
Canadiens: Carey Price (22-13-4, 2.30 GAA, .924 Sv%)

Last Games:

Penguins: Lost to Florida Panthers 5-1.
Canadiens: Lost to Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3.

Official Previews from Team Websites: [Penguins] [Canadiens]

Opposition Blog: [Eyes on the Prize]
What They're Saying: "Game Preview"

The Canadiens were supposed to be among the Eastern Conference's elite. Now, whatever disease has befallen them seems to be affecting the Pittsburgh Penguins, as well.

Over their last ten games, the Penguins fenwick close percentage is sitting at 45.1%, a number not much better than the Habs pitiful 42.5%. Despite failing to outshoot their opponents seven times in that stretch, the Penguins have won seven times, maintaining their healthy cushion at the top of the Metropolitan division.

What's kept the Penguins afloat? Part of their success has been timely goaltending, and starter Marc Andre Fleury has mixed some excellent starts in with some stinkers. Furthermore, when Fleury's been bad, his teammates have bailed him out. Discounting a one goal against effort against the woeful Flames, Fleury has given up a total of 12 goals since January 3. Unfazed, his teammates have come up with fifteen total goals in those games, and the Pens have kept rolling.

Does this mean that the Penguins are due for a collapse? Not necessarily. The Penguins' star talent is unsurpassed league wide, and no Eastern team can boast better scoring at even strength. While his numbers are only at the league average, Fleury is having one of the best statistical seasons of his career, giving the Penguins a chance to win on a regular basis. Perhaps most significantly, the Penguins have suffered some key injuries lately, leaving them without Sidney Crosby wingman Pascal Dupuis, occasional top six forward Beau Bennett, and two of their top defenders, Kris Letang and Paul Martin. While their top forwards have gone unscathed for once, the Penguins have lost more man games than any other NHL team this season.

What Happened Last Time: November 23, 2013 – Pens lost 3-2 [Our Recap]

We set our expectations low for this game. Pens are in a ridiculous stretch of games, they played a tough game on Friday against the Isles, and, well, it is kind of just November.

A Saturday night in Montreal is always a tough game in a great atmosphere. Games like this are where players like Malkin and Crosby amp it up so much more, and this was no different. Just an elite level of hockey.

But Montreal's big boys came to play, as well. The Markov/Subban D pairing may be the most terrifying in the NHL right now. Sorry to gush over P.K. Subban, but there’s a really good reason Pens fans despise him.

Penguins Player(s) to Watch: Evgeni Malkin. The Habs will try to get under his skin all night. Will it work?

Canadiens Player(s) to Watch: P.K. Subban. He's pretty much guaranteed to have an impact on the game.

Gif that Seems Appropriate for Today's Game: 

Pittsburgh Penguins lines from Daily Faceoff:

Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Chuck Kobasew
Jussi Jokinen- Evgeni Malkin – James Neal
Tanner Glass – Brandon Sutter – Taylor Pyatt
Craig Adams – Zach Sill – Jayson Megna/Derek Engelland
 
Paul Martin – Brooks Orpik
Rob Scuderi – Kris Letang
Olli Maatta – Matt Niskanen
 
Marc-Andre Fleury

Montreal Canadiens lines from Daily Faceoff:

Max Pacioretty – David Desharnais – Brenden Gallagher
Lars Eller – Tomas Plekanec – Brian Gionta
Rene Bourque – Daniel Briere – Brandon Prust
Louis Leblanc – Michael Bournival – Travis Moen
 
Andrei Markov – P.K. Subban
Nathan Beaulieu – Josh Georges
Douglas Murray – Francois Bouillon
 
Carey Price

 

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