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Habs this week – March 21, 2010

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL – Coming off a light workload of just two games last Tuesday and Saturday, the Habs roll up their sleeves and get back to business for a four-game swing this week.

Canadiens vs. Senators – Monday, March 22 @ 7:30 p.m.
The tables have turned for the sixth and final meeting between the Sens and Habs this Monday night. The last two times the Canadiens have faced off against Ottawa, it was Daniel Alfredsson and Co. in the midst of a torrid win streak, which was finally halted at 11 straight victories. While the Sens have lost steam since then, the Habs are just heating up, heading into Monday’s game on a seven-wins-in-nine-games roll.
The troops from the nation’s capital have everything to lose in this key match-up, tied with the Canadiens with 79 points, but taking the edge with one more win than the bleu-blanc-rouge. With the Habs nipping at their heels, the Sens will be looking to snap a five-game skid to gain momentum heading into the playoffs. 
Canadiens @ Sabres – Wednesday, March 24 @ 7:30 p.m.
The Sabres are the current kings of the North East division, giving them free reign of the third overall spot in the conference. The Canadiens, who many pundits predicted would miss the playoffs heading into the Olympic break, have catapulted themselves into a race for the top seed in the division. With just nine points separating the two teams in the standings, the Sabres and Habs still have two games of their six-game series this season left to play.
To keep their playoff home ice advantage hopes alive, the Habs will need to solve Ryan Miller, who has been spectacular since returning from the Olympics with a silver medal dangling from his neck. Miller currently boasts a league-leading 0.930 save percentage to go with his 6-2-1 record since coming off the break.
Canadiens vs. Panthers – Thursday, March 25 @ 7:30 p.m.

With under 10 games to go in the regular season, the spoilers are set to take center stage. While the Habs remain in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race, the Panthers are a shrinking speck in their rearview mirrors eager to throw a monkey wrench into Montreal’s postseason plans.
The last time these two teams met it was an epic goaltending battle between Jaroslav Halak and Tomas Vokoun, who earned the game’s first and second stars, respectively. Halak made 39 stops that night on the way to his second of three shutouts on the season.
Canadiens vs. Devils – Saturday, March 27 @ 7:00 p.m.

In a possible first-round playoff preview, the Devils come to town this week. While Montreal native Martin Brodeur will command his usual attention, newcomer Ilya Kovalchuk will be making his Bell Centre debut with his new team. Renowned as always for their stingy defense, the Devils also now boast some serious firepower with Kovalchuk and Zach Parise each totaling over 70 points on the season.
As for the Habs, they may finally have a full squad when they meet New Jersey. With the pending return of Michael Cammalleri and the club’s suddenly red-hot third and fourth lines, the Canadiens could be poised to counter Brodeur’s well-known mojo whenever he faces his hometown team. Even without Cammy in the lineup, the Habs have produced almost four goals per game since the Olympic break.

Vincent Cauchy is a writer for Translated by Manny Almela and Shauna Denis.

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