Thursday, December 20, 2007

Habs kick off 6-game trip in D.C.

The Habs will be wishing for a winning road-trip as they open a 6-game road swing that will take them through Christmas and right on up to the new year.

The Habs are aiming for their 3rd straight road victory in Washington tonight. Montreal is sporting a very solid 10-5-1 record away from the Bell Centre this year, and they are facing a Capitals team who is dreadful on home ice with a 6-9-1 home record, 2nd worst in the NHL after Phoenix. The Caps are dead last in the East and will have to pick up their game on and away from home ice if they wish to stay in the playoff hunt. They have had a pleasant month of December thus far, posting a 5-2-1 record, with the OT loss coming via a shootout loss in Detroit. Getting a point at the Joe Louis indicates that this team is in fact capable of contending with a juggernaught such as the Wings (when they're completely 100% on their game, that is).

Montreal meets Washington for the 1st time this season. Montreal have won 5 of their last 6 with the Capitals, and have scored 20 goals over that span. Montreal went 3-1 against Washington last season, scoring at least 4 goals in each of their 3 victories. Huet gets the call in goal tonight. He is 4-2 lifetime against the Caps, sporting a .912 save%.

Michael Ryder will be a healthy scratch to make room for the returning Guillaume Latendresse tonight. Ryder has been a major disappointment this season, so much so that the former 30 goal scorer of two consecutive seasons has now been scratched on multiple occasions this season. Many fans have already expressed interest in dealing the struggling Newfoundland native, but having him in the pressbox on a contract year where he is set to become a UFA is not the right way to build value. However, he has dawned this problem on himself, demonstrating a complete lack of grit and lack of determination to score. Look for Kovalev to sometimes play on a line with Koivu and Higgins, while the Kostitsyn's will flank a line centered by Plekanec from time to time.

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