Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Eastern Powers Collide

The Canadiens failed to take over the Eastern Conference lead over the weekend, but they're hoping to move ahead of the New Jersey Devils for the top spot when the teams finish their regular-season series tonight at Bell Centre.

Montreal (38-23-9) opens a 4-game homestand after going 2-2-0 on a road trip that concluded Sunday with a 3-1 loss to Anaheim.

Two points ahead of Ottawa in the Northeast Division, the Habs are 9-4-0 since a three-game skid from Feb. 7-12. Montreal hopes to build on this recent surge and return to the playoffs for the third time in four seasons after missing out in 2006-07.

Before reaching the postseason, however, Montreal will look to beat New Jersey (40-23-6), which maintained its one-point lead in East with the Canadiens' most recent defeat.

The Canadiens hope to win the season series from the Devils for the first time since taking two of three contests in 1992-93 en route to their last Stanley Cup title.

Montreal posted a 2-1 home victory on March 1 in the teams' most recent meeting, giving it back-to-back wins against the Devils for the first time since Nov. 11, 1992-Jan. 20, 1993. The Canadiens haven't won more than two straight in the all-time series since a four-game run, spanning two seasons from Oct. 10, 1988-Oct. 13, 1989.

It might be hard for the Canadiens to move closer to that mark with Martin Brodeur in net for the Devils. Brodeur made 42 saves in his 27th straight start Saturday, leading New Jersey to a 2-1 victory at Toronto.

Brodeur is 1-2-0 with a 2.02 GAA and a shutout in three games versus Montreal this season. He is 34-14-0 with five ties, eight shutouts and a 1.76 GAA in 53 all-time meetings.

The Montreal native, who had won four straight games at Bell Centre prior to that March 1 loss, is 14-11-0 with a tie, four shutouts and a 1.77 GAA in 26 starts in his hometown.

Associated Press

No comments: