Thursday, January 31, 2008

Pre-Game Buzz Should Set The Tone

The Habs will look to match a season-high 4-game winning streak tonight as they visit the Verizon Center and the Washington Capitals.

The Canadiens (27-15-8) are 10-2-2 in their last 14 games, and are fresh off a home ice victory against the Caps, having defeated them 4-0 on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre. But the buzz today has been about Capitals forward Viktor Kozlov's recent comments in regards to Tuesday's contest.

Kozlov went on the record saying (and I paraphrase here as I do not have the exact quote) that the Habs were trying to embarass them Tuesday by sending out Alex Kovalev's unit on a powerplay with under 1 minute remaining with the score already at 3-0 (a game deemed out of reach for the Caps). The unit ended up scoring with just over 40 seconds remaining.

The main thing about this is the whole issue of unwritten rules in hockey. The unwritten rule states (as ironic as that may sound) that a coach of a team should not designate its top forwards to a powerplay when the game is already out of reach for the opponent. Some will argue that:
A) Carbo sent Kovalev out because he had such a strong game before hand and hadn't had the luxury of obtaining a point, and some might argue that:
B) Kovalev was sent out because he can handle the puck and put on a great show for the home-town crowd.

Some may also argue that:
C) No matter who you have, you shouldn't do something like that (as in sending in a star player when the game is already over), and others will suggest that:
D) Unwritten rules shouldn't even be followed, and that running up a score is all part of playing a 60-minute hockey game.

Well, it happened, and the great thing about it is that it will set the tone for tonight's contest in Washington. The Caps definitely have revenge on their mind, and they will come out looking to blow the Habs away on home ice. Might we be seeing the beginnings of a rivalry from such a random event? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure: Emotions will run high tonight in D.C.

The Habs have won 10 straight Thursday night contests, and have only lost just one, dating back to October 18th where they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Senators in Ottawa in their 1st Thursday evening match of the season. The Habs lead the season-series 2-1 and have never scored less than 4 goals against the Caps this season, outscoring them 13-7 thus far. The Habs' #2 ranked powerplay will match up against Washington's #25 ranked penalty kill.

The goalies slated to get the starts are Crisotbal Huet for Montreal and Olaf Kolzing for Washington. No lineup changes for Montreal, as Brisebois and Dandeneault continue to sit it out.

Pcuk drop goes at 7:08. Enjoy the game!

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