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Habs Notebook - March 14, 2008

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
Is there an interpreter in the house? A proud native of Smithtown, NY, Christopher Higgins will have a different centerman by his side when the Canadiens take on his hometown Islanders on Saturday night and he may want to find a Russian-English dictionary before then. Slated to play with pivot Mikhail Grabovski and Sergei Kostitsyn on left wing, Higgins doesn’t seem concerned about any type of language barrier.

“They’re a couple of really talented players who can do amazing things out there like beat guys one-on-one,” said Higgins. “For some reason you don’t always need to talk on out on the ice. The game on the ice kind of speaks for itself. I might still need some Russian classes, but my French ones are keeping me busy enough these days. I’m going to take this one step at a time.”

Home body: Jaroslav Halak will make his second start of the season on Saturday after having downed the Kings in Los Angeles last week. Halak turned aside 35 of 37 shots for his first win of 2007-08 on his way to earning the game’s No. 1 star. The 22-year-old will be making his eighth career Bell Centre appearance as he puts his perfect 7-0 record at home on the line against the visiting Islanders.

Swept away: The Canadiens are gunning for a season sweep of the Islanders for the seventh time in the Isles’ 36 years in the NHL. The Habs welcomed them to the league by sweeping all five games versus New York in 1972-73, outscoring the Isles by a 24-10 margin. The Islanders returned the favor only once, sweeping Montreal in 1983-84 before Al Arbour’s crew failed to win a fifth straight Stanley Cup that spring.

Divisional bias: Once the final siren goes on Saturday night against the Islanders, Guy Carbonneau’s squad will have wrapped up its Atlantic Division portion of the 2007-08 schedule. That isn’t necessarily good news for the Habs considering their impressive 13-5-1 record versus the Atlantic this season, second only to the Rangers, who have won 15 games against their own division rivals.

Manny Almela is a writer for
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