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The Habs this week

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
Canadiens vs. Islanders – Monday, Nov. 24 @ 7:30 PM

The Canadiens and Islanders hook up for the second time this month and this season, the first at the Bell Centre.  The matchup marks a return to Montreal for former Hab Mark Streit, who is second among Islanders in scoring. In their last meeting on Nov. 1, the Habs erased a 4-1, third period deficit for a 5-4 win. 

Winners of four of their last five, the Isles are proving to be a tougher foe than earlier this month.  Though they still sit in the Atlantic Division basement heading into Monday night’s contest, New York has moved to within four points of the fourth-place Flyers.

Keep an eye on:
Christopher Higgins:
The New York-area teams tend to bring out the best in Higgins, especially when facing his hometown Islanders.  The 25-year-old potted the equalizer in their Nov. 1 tilt, bringing his career total to eight goals and 10 points in 12 games.

Doug Weight:
After a disappointing, career-low 25-point effort with St. Louis and Anaheim in 2007-08, Weight appears to have found new life on the Island.  The veteran pivot, who is riding a five-game points streak, is leading the Islanders in scoring, with 19 points in 20 games so far.

Canadiens at Red Wings – Wednesday, Nov. 26 @ 7:30 PM

The lone matchup of the season between the Habs and Red Wings goes Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena.  The defending champs aren’t showing any signs of a Cup hangover, boasting a 14-2-3 record through 19 games, ahead of Monday night’s action.

Montreal netminders will likely breathe a sigh of relief ahead of Wednesday’s tilt; Tomas Holmstrom, who has reserved himself a parking spot in creases around the league, isn’t expected to play, as a sore back has kept him out of the lineup since last Thursday.

The two teams met twice in the pre-season, with Montreal taking both in the shootout.

Keep an eye on:
Alex Tanguay:
Having spent the first eight years of his career in the Western Conference, Tanguay is no stranger to facing the Red Wings.  The 29-year-old has racked up 27 points in as many games in his career against Detroit, including 13 in as many meetings as the visitor.

Marian Hossa: New team, new conference, same old Hossa.  The Slovak winger is proving to be right at home in Hockeytown, where he’s potted 11 goals and 24 points to lead all Wings.  Always an effective player at both ends of the ice, Hossa is also tops on the Detroit roster with a plus-9 differential; he’s plus-6 at Joe Louis Arena.

Canadiens at Capitals – Friday, Nov. 28 @ 7 PM

The Canadiens open up a back-to-back set on Friday night, beginning with a date with the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center.  The Capitals lead the Southeast Division heading into Monday’s schedule, holding a slim one-point advantage over the Carolina Hurricanes.  Montreal could see a familiar face in the opposing net, with former Habs backstop Jose Theodore signed in the off-season to man the Washington crease.

Keep an eye on:
Guillaume Latendresse:
The Verizon Center is like a second home for Latendresse.  The 21-year-old has notched eight points against the Capitals in four career games in Washington.  Overall, Latendresse has enjoyed the most success against the American capital representatives, notching nine points in eight games.

Nicklas Backstrom: Backstrom apparently hasn’t heard of the sophomore jinx.  The Sweden native sits third in Capitals scoring with 19 points, behind only Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin.  That total puts the second-year center on pace for 78 points this season, eclipsing his 69-point output from his rookie campaign.

Canadiens vs. Sabres – Saturday, Nov. 29 @ 7 PM

After facing off in the season opener, the Canadiens and Sabres will battle it out for the second time this season on Saturday night.  Both clubs opened the campaign on a roll but wins have been hard to come by of late.  While the Habs have picked up a W here and there, Lindy Ruff’s crew has dropped five straight (as of Monday) and has been outscored 25-9 during that stretch.

Keep an eye on:
Alex Kovalev:
Saturday night’s alright for scoring. At least, it would seem that’s how Kovalev feels, with half of the right-winger’s 14 points coming on that night (as of Monday).  Despite a slow start on the scoresheet, Kovalev has upped his numbers this month from October, notching eight points in 10 games in November.

Craig Rivet: While Rivet has faced his former ‘mates as a member of the Sharks last season in San Jose, the veteran rearguard will take to the ice as the visitor for the first time since he was traded in February 2007.  He’ll do so as the Sabres’ captain, marking the first time since 2003 that Buffalo has had a full-time captain.

Heather Engel is a writer for

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