There's is only one game in the entire league tonight and it features the greatest organ-i-zation in the history of hockey and the Montreal Canadiens.
It's a tale of two seasons for these clubs.
The Red Wings are in their familiar position atop the division, the West, and the entire league. Some guys retired, the roster was tweaked, and assistant coaches were changed last offseason, but the Red Wings are a franchise that is consistent in their ways and it shows mightily on and off the ice in the last 20-plus seasons.
The Canadiens on the other hand are in the midst of quite possibly one of the most embarrassing seasons in their history. The Habs struggled out of the gate and, in October, right before a game against the Flyers, the team fired an assistant coach. Two months later they axed head coach Jacques Martin. His replacement? Randy Cunneyworth. The new head coach was vilified by the media, fan base, and citizens of Montreal. Why was Cunneyworth evil? Because he doesn't speak French. Fast forward to this month and GM Pierre Gauthier trades forward Mike Cammalleri...in the MIDDLE OF A GAME. Cammalleri was pulled from a game against the Bruins in the second intermission, told to change into his street clothes, take a cab back to the team hotel and wait for further instructions. Crazy.
Meanwhile, while the Habs were self destructing and P.K. Subban was taking classes at the Devin Setoguchi School of Diviing (featuring Barret Jackman), the Red Wings were -- and still are -- beating every team in their path and enjoying life on the top.
The Habs aren't a team that's going to take runs at the Wings and try to be overly physical with them. They're a smaller team and will try to use speed to their advantage. The Wings have the ability to match that and then some. It's an original six match up and anything can happen. The crowd in Montreal will be fired up and so will the Wings. It's the last hockey game until after the All-Star break and it's going to be a good one.
Habs Eyes On The Prize is your SBNation Canadiens' blog.
Tonight's game is exclusive to NBC Sports Network
NHL36 featuring Nicklas Lidstrom is at 6:30p ET
NHL Live follows that at 7p ET
Puck drop is just after 7:30p ET
The Expected Lineup
Nicklas Lidstrom -- Ian White
Jimmy Howard (starting)
Injuries: Patrick Eaves (jaw)
|RED WINGS||HOW THEY MATCH UP||CANADIENS|
|33-15-1 (67 pts; 1st in NHL)||Record||18-21-9 (45 pts; 12th in East)|
|3.12 (5th)||Goals Per Game||2.54 (18th)|
|2.24 (5th)||Goals Against Per Game||2.60 (12th)|
|18.9% (10th)||Power Play %||12.2% (LAST)|
|81.4% (21st)||Penalty Kill %||89.2% (2nd)|
|Johan Franzen (19 goals)||Goal Leader||Erik Cole (18 goals)|
|Pavel Datsyuk (53 points)||Points Leader||Erik Cole (36 points)|
- The Red Wings are 201-270-96-0 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Montreal Canadiens.
- A win tonight by the Wings would put them over .500 on the road (14-13-0).
- Players on the Red Wings with more goals than Scott Gomez: Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Todd Bertuzzi, Valtteri Filppula, Henrik Zetterberg, Jiri Hudler, Danny Cleary, Darren Helm, Drew Miller, Tomas Holmstrom, Justin Abdelkader, Cory Emmerton, Chris Conner, Nicklas Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart, Ian White, Jakub Kindl, and Jonathan Ericsson.
- Jimmy Howard is 2-0-0 in his career against the Habs with a 1.92 GAA and a .929 SV%.
- Todd Bertuzzi is one goal away from 300 for his career.
- Pavel Datsyuk need five points tonight to tie Evgeni Malkin for the NHL scoring lead.
Prediction: If the Habs don't trade for Rick Nash or Jarome Iginla in the middle of the second period, I think the Red Wings will be okay in the is game. Detroit wins 3-0 and Jimmy is your player of the game.
Let's Go Red Wings.