MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens will attempt to avoid their longest losing streak of the season when they host the Minnesota Wild tonight.
With the playoffs highly unlikely -- and everyone on the team seemingly resigned to that fact -- things like halting a five-game losing streak or improving their League-worst .333 winning percentage on home ice (11-14-8) are what the Canadiens players are focusing on for motivation.
"You play for pride and the logo on the front of your jersey," center Lars Eller said. "That means a lot. So you have to keep that in mind."
Someone who will be feeling a great sense of pride tonight is newcomer Blake Geoffrion, who will play his second game in a Canadiens uniform, but his first at home.
Geoffrion is wearing No. 57 to honor two members of his family who are legends in the Canadiens organization -- his grandfather, Bernard "Boom Boom" Geoffrion (No. 5) and his great-grandfather, Howie Morenz (No. 7).
Another new Canadiens addition has a bit of extra motivation as well, as Brad Staubitz will face the team that placed him on waivers on Feb. 27.
"I really hope I can get my first goal of the year," Staubitz said with a smile.
He last scored a goal April 10, 2011, a span of 44 games. Although he'd probably settle for an assist -- his last point of any kind came on that goal. Better known for physical play, his 90 penalty minutes are the most on the Canadiens.
His former Wild teammates expressed regret that Staubitz was no longer with them, but they have little doubt that should he be called upon to fill play that extra-physical role Thursday, there will be no hesitation.
"I know what a great pro he is, so he's going to go out and play his game and do his job," said Wild coach Mike Yeo. "We expect him to play a very hard game, but having said that I'm sure he'd rather have that role and that responsibility against a team he's not as close with."
Canadiens coach Randy Cunneyworth would not tip his hand as to who will be in his lineup for the game, though he did suggest he would go with seven defensemen once again.
The matchup in goal will pit Carey Price against Niklas Backstrom.
We had the likely Wild lineup earlier; here’s the most likely Canadiens lineup:
Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Ryan White - Tomas Plekanec - Blake Geoffrion
Aaron Palushaj - Lars Eller - Rene Bourque
Scott Gomez - Brad Staubitz
Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Alexei Emelin - Raphael Diaz
Tomas Kaberle - Chris Campoli
With Price starting in goal, Peter Budaj will be the backup.