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The Habs this week - Feb. 2, 2009

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
Canadiens vs. Penguins – Tuesday, Feb. 3 @ 7:30 PM

Two teams struggling for consistency headline the Habs’ first matchup of the week as the Penguins visit the Bell Centre for the first time this season.  The Canadiens will be looking to bounce back from Sunday’s loss to the Bruins and at the same, make it two in a row over Pittsburgh. Andrei Kostitsyn led the charge with his first career hat trick in the first meeting between the two back on Dec. 27

Last year’s Stanley Cup finalists have been searching for themselves since mid-November. Injuries to blue line stalwarts Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney didn’t help Pittsburgh’s early fortunes.  While Whitney returned on Dec. 23 and has collected 10 points in the 18 games he’s played, the Pens are still without Gonchar and are feeling his loss with the man advantage; after ranking fourth on the power-play in 2007-08 propelled by 46 points from the veteran blueliner, Pittsburgh finds itself 24th in the league this season.

Canadiens @ Sabres – Friday, Feb. 6 @ 7:30 PM

The Canadiens and Sabres hook up for the fourth time this season and just the second time in Buffalo.  While facing the Sabres is never a “gimme” game, Guy Carbonneau’s charges have had the Sabres’ number of late.  The Habs have taken the last two meetings and are 5-0-1 in their last six tilts, outscoring their divisional rival 21-12 in that stretch.

After missing out on the postseason in 2007-08, Lindy Ruff’s crew appears determined not to let history repeat itself.  Heading into their date with the Ducks on Monday, the Sabres sit in seventh place in the East, thanks to five wins in their last seven games. They’ve also been a tough team to beat while shorthanded, ranking third in the NHL with an 86.7% success rate.

Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs – Saturday, Feb. 7 @ 7 PM

Before the final buzzer even sounded in their previous contest on Jan. 8, many were already anticipating this weekend's rematch. The Habs throttled the Maple Leafs that night and the 6-2 result wasn’t the score most were discussing; instead, much of the talk centered around Mikhail Grabovski and Sergei Kostitsyn, who clearly had a score of their own to settle.

The Maple Leafs head into the week riding a two-game winning streak for just the fourth time this season and the first since Dec. 22. If they hope to keep riding their modest success this week – during which they’ll face the Panthers and Sabres before visiting Montreal - they’ll have to do it without their top defenseman.  Tomas Kaberle suffered a broken bone in his hand and is expected to be out of action for three to four weeks. The 30-year-old leads the team with an average of 23:55 of ice time, nearly two full minutes more than 19-year-old rookie Luke Schenn, who sits second among the Leafs in that category.

Heather Engel is a writer for

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