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The Habs this week - Jan. 19, 2009

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
Canadiens @ Thrashers – Tuesday, Jan. 20 @ 7 PM

While opposing arenas can often be unwelcome territory, Philips Arena in Atlanta is one of the exceptions to that rule when it comes to the Canadiens.  The Thrashers have been the host 16 times since they joined the NHL in 1999-2000, but it’s the Habs who have enjoyed the success with a 10-3-2-1 record.

In a season with more downs than ups, the Thrashers have enjoyed some mild success of late, winning two straight and three of their last five.  Their modest winning streak is the first of its kind since stringing five Ws together back in early November.  

Keep an eye on:
Andrei Kostitsyn:
The Thrashers will need to keep more than an eye on the elder Kostitsyn; he’s riding a seven-game points streak and has piled up 15 points in his last 11 games.  That hot stretch has helped the 23-year-old inch closer to a milestone moment in his young career – his 100th NHL point. He also has five points in sixcontests against Atlanta, including a highlight-reel tally at Philips Arena last season.

Rich Peverley: He’s bounced around between the NHL and AHL for the last couple of years and had a career year of 10 points in the NHL with the Predators in 2007-08.  Just three games into his new life as a Thrasher – he was claimed off waivers from Nashville on Jan. 10 – Peverley isn’t too far off from setting new personal benchmarks, with six points already.

Canadiens @ Devils – Wednesday, January 21 @ 7 PM

Nearly three weeks have passed since the Habs last visited New Jersey and this time around, Guy Carbonneau’s troop is looking for a different result. The 4-1 final was the Canadiens’ second loss to the Devils this season, leaving Brent Sutter’s crew as the only club against whom Montreal had yet to post a win in 2008-09.

After opening up 2009 with a 2-2 record, the Devils appear to have gotten back on track during their current six-game road trip, going 4-1 ahead of Monday’s finale in Nashville. New Jersey is likely hoping that success continues at home, where they’ve split wins and losses in their last eight games at the Prudential Center.

Keep an eye on:
Andrei Markov:
It would seem it’s a good time to be named Andrei.  While Kostitsyn is cruising along up front, Markov is stacking up the points on the back end.  Heading into the week, the two-time All-Star had eight points in his last six outings, including his 300th NHL career point earned against the Senators on Saturday.  Markov had plenty of interaction with the puck that night, sending a team-high six shots on net while blocking five, the most among his teammates.

Patrik Elias:
The Patrik Elias of the past two seasons appears to have said so long, and for the man himself, he surely couldn’t be happier.  After putting up 69 and 55 points in 2006-07 and 2007-08, respectively, the Czech veteran has found his game again this year.  With 51 points under his belt already (heading into Monday’s action), Elias is poised to surpass the 90-point mark for the first time since his career-best 96-point effort in 2000-01.

57th NHL All-Star Weekend – January 24 & 25

Montreal will be the center of attention this weekend as the stars descend upon the city for the NHL’s midseason classic. Some 52 of the NHL’s best and brightest – including 10 sophomores and rookies squaring off in the YoungStars game - will showcase their skills in the Honda SuperSkills competition on Saturday night and the big game itself on Sunday evening.

The annual showcase has been held on the Habs’ home ice three times since the format went to a divisional and later conference battle, in 1969, 1975 and 1993.  As the host, the Canadiens’ side has yet to lose an All-Star matchup, going 2-0-1 in those games.

After adding some international flavor to the event for a few years, the league returned to the East vs. West format in 2003; since then, the conferences have alternated wins, with the Eastern Conference emerging victorious in the 2008 All-Star Game in Atlanta.

Heather Engel is a writer for

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