Christmas has come and gone, but before we can call it 2008, the Habs will have 3 games in three different cities, none of them their own.
Cristobal Huet will be between the pipes as the Habs play guest to the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight. Huet's last appearance was two games ago, as the Habs dropped their first of two straight in a shootout loss against Atlanta. Huet wasn't particularly sharp in the game, and was 0-for-2 in the shootout. Usually, Cristobal bounces back after a weak outing, but to bounce back tonight, he's going to have to stop the league's leading point-getter.
Vincent Lecavalier has 25 goals and 30 assists for a league-high 55 points, and is on pace for 55 goals and 66 assists - career highs in both categories. Last season, Lecavalier led the league with 52 goals and was third with 108 points. Lecavalier is officially off to the best start of his young career, yet the Lightning's struggles on the back end have led them to the 14th position in the East, a real disappointment. Like Montreal, Tampa have lost in two consective games, most recently, last night in Washington. Lecavalier had both Tampa goals as the Lightning fell 3-2 to the Capitals. Despite their poor overall record of 15-19-3, the Lightning are a solid 12-6-2 at home. However, a home win is not guaranteed tonight, since the Habs boast a strong 11-6-2 road record, almost identical to Tampa's home record.
Montreal will have Michael Ryder back in the lineup tonight, and he will reportedly skate on the 3rd line. No indication on who will be left aside in place of Ryder. Begin, Brisebois and Smolinski are out with injuries. Begin and Brisebois are at least a week away from return, while Smolinski's knee injury could keep him out for another 3-5 weeks.
The last meeting between these two clubs was this past December 11th. The Lightning won via shootout, 3-2, with Marc Denis getting the win. It's anybody's game tonight, as both teams are very desperate to get in the winning column, with Montreal looking to hold a playoff position, and Tampa looking to get into one.