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The Habs this week - Jan. 12, 2009

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
Canadiens @ Bruins – Tuesday, Jan. 13 @ 7 PM

Arguably the highlight of the NHL schedule on Tuesday. The Original Six foes will square off for the first time since Nov. 22 at the Bell Centre, when Boston earned its second straight win over Montreal. Currently two of the top teams in the East and the league, the Canadiens aren’t the same squad the Bruins beat twice in their two November meetings.

The Habs are 9-1-1 in their last 11 and with the second half of their season set to kick off on Tuesday, the club appears to have found its rhythm.  The offense is firing on all cylinders, thanks to an incredibly balanced attack. The Canadiens have lit the lamp 23 tallies during their current four-game winning streak, with 11 players finding their way onto the scoresheet.  Add to that a power-play that’s connected at least twice in the last three games and the recipe for success is there.

Boston, meanwhile, has taken the W in their last two outings after falling in consecutive games for the first time since October.  They’ve been tough to beat on home ice this season, dropping just four decisions overall in front of their fans.

Keep an eye on:
Mike Komisarek and Milan Lucic:
It’s been two months since these two last went toe-to-toe and the night wasn’t a memorable one for Komisarek.  The Habs’ bruising blue-liner suffered a shoulder injury in a fight against Lucic on Nov. 13, keeping him out of action for just over a month.

The pair might have to wait to renew acquaintances, though.  While Komisarek will be on the ice on Tuesday night, Lucic’s presence remains uncertain.  The 20-year-old has missed the Bruins’ last two games with an undisclosed injury.

Canadiens vs. Predators – Thursday, Jan. 15 @ 7:30 PM

For four straight seasons (2003-04 to 2007-08), the Predators enjoyed an extended campaign.  This year, though, that mini-streak could come to an end.  Barry Trotz’s crew has struggled for consistency this season and with the resurgence of division rivals Chicago and Columbus, finds itself 12th in the Western Conference, heading into the week.

It hasn’t been all doom and gloom, however.  As of Monday, the Preds were in striking distance of a playoff spot, just four points back of the eighth-place Avalanche.  They’ve also been able to count on a successful shorthanded unit that has killed off 84% of their opponents’ opportunities while scoring six goals of their own.

Keep an eye on:
Robert Lang:
Facing the Predators is nothing new for Lang, who spent the last several seasons in the Central Division. That’s allowed him rack up 18 goals and 31 points against the Preds, with the tally total his highest against any team in the NHL (tied with the Rangers).

Shea Weber: What a year so far for the BC native.  Inked to a new three-year deal last June, Weber hasn't disappointed this year, amassing 30 points in 42 games, including his 100th career point on Saturday night.  Those numbers have put him on pace to potentially hit the 60-point plateau, easily besting his previous career mark of 40 set back in 2006-07.

Canadiens @ Senators – Saturday, Jan. 17 @ 7 PM

Who are these Senators?  That’s what everyone has been asking over the last year and a half, a stretch that’s seen the former Stanley Cup finalists turn into a faint shadow of their former selves.  Daniel Alfredsson and Co. had just two wins in their last 12 heading into the week and were still in search of their first victory in 2009.

The downward spiral has seen the Sens plummet to 14th place in the Eastern Conference and 29th in the league overall.  A once potent offense has dried up considerably this season, producing a league-low 93 goals.

Montreal has taken both meetings so far this year, outscoring Ottawa 7-2.

Keep an eye on:
Alex Kovalev:
It would seem the door has closed on an un-Kovalev-like start to the season.  After piling up 10 points in 13 games in December, No. 27 has stayed the course so far in January, with four points in five games, as of Monday.  He’s been finding his teammates more often than the back of the net, to sit second on the team behind only Andrei Markov in assists.

Jason Spezza:
If, when the puck dropped on the 2008-09 campaign, someone would have mentioned that Spezza wouldn’t reach 70 points this year, not many would have believed it. But, as it stands now, that could very well be the truth.  The 25-year-old had 33 points heading into the week, putting him on pace to drop more than 20 points from last year’s 92-point effort.

Heather Engel is a writer for

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