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Habs counting on Desharnais' line

by Arpon Basu /
BROSSARD, Que. -- The Philadelphia Flyers arrived in Montreal for their game against the Canadiens on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN) with three forward lines scoring goals on a regular basis.

The Canadiens, on the other hand, have one.

The line of David Desharnais, Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty has been the Canadiens' most consistent trio all season, and they will be counted on to produce against the high-powered Flyers, who lead the League with 3.66 goals per game, including the five they scored in Washington on Tuesday while missing League scoring leader Claude Giroux due to a concussion.

While Cole and Pacioretty are well-known commodities in the NHL, Desharnais is not quite a household name.

Listed at 5-foot-7 and 177 pounds, Desharnais has beaten the odds as an undrafted free agent who dominated the ECHL and American Hockey League not only to reach the NHL, but thrive there.

"I didn't know a tremendous amount about him," Cole said of Desharnais. "But I was impressed with him when I played against the Canadiens last year. For a small player he's strong in puck battles. His compete level is very high."

The emphasis on the Desharnais line producing is made all the more glaring by the lack of production coming from Montreal's other key offensive players -- Michael Cammalleri has 1 goal in his last nine games, Tomas Plekanec has 1 goal in his last 11 games, and Brian Gionta, before he was sidelined with a lower-body injury that will cost him a third game Thursday, had 1 goal in his last nine games.

"It's got to get better," said Cammalleri. "But no, I'm not frustrated."

Here's what the rest of the Canadiens' lineup -- and the Flyers' lineup -- likely will look like tonight.

And for more on tongiht's game, check out the preview here.
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