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Habs Notebook - March 3, 2008

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
Number One: After a win over New Jersey, the Canadiens find themselves atop the Eastern Conference for the first time since 1993. The team has won three games in a row since the trade deadline and has come out with the win in seven of their last nine. With that being said, Montreal has no time to get comfortable, as their 81 points are only one more than both New Jersey and Ottawa. The Habs kick off their four-game swing against Pacific Division opponents on Monday night when they visit the San Jose Sharks. The last time these two teams met was in 2005-06, when the Canadiens downed the Sharks 6-2 at the Bell Centre.

Wild, Wild West: Following a brilliant weekend in which they collected four points against Buffalo and New Jersey, the Canadiens take their show on the road this week for a four-game tour of the West coast.  Montreal will look to better its impressive 20-9-4-road record when they visit the Sharks on Monday, before stopping in Phoenix on Thursday, and playing back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday in Los Angeles and Anaheim. The last time the Canadiens had a Western road trip this long was during the 2003-04 campaign when they visited the same four cities. Montreal lost to San Jose before beating the Coyotes, Kings and Ducks.

If the hat fits, wear it!:Tomas Plekanec led the offense for the Canadiens in Friday’s 6-2 blowout win over the Buffalo Sabres. Plekanec recorded his first career hat trick and added an assist in the third period to cap off the night with four points. The three power play goals give Plekanec a career-high 24 for the season.  The trio of tallies was the first hat trick by a Canadiens player since Michael Ryder netted three goals against Toronto in the last game of the 2006-07 campaign.

Power Play Perfection:The Canadiens' power play has been on fire of late. With a startling 25.3% success rate that continues to lead the NHL, Montreal’s man advantage unit has scored seven goals in its last three games. After going 3-for-4 against the Sabres on Friday, the Canadiens went 2-for-6 with the extra attacker in their 2-1 win over the Devils.

Rivet-ing: While many may have asked  "Josh who?" when Josh Gorges arrived along with a 2007 first-round pick in a trade that sent Craig Rivet and a fifth round pick to San Jose, that's no longer the case. The 23-year-old defenseman hasn't looked back since earning a regular shift alongside Francis Bouillon back in December. On the other side of the deal, Rivet is having a strong year in San Jose and is only three points away from breaking his single season points record of 34, which he set with the Canadiens back in 2005-06.

Sam Bick is a contributor to
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