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Lineups in flux for Lightning, Canadiens

by Arpon Basu
MONTREAL – The lineups for both the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning are difficult to project ahead of tonight’s game.

Neither team went through line rushes at their morning skate and both teams are considering dressing seven defensemen, but for entirely different reasons.

In the Lightning’s case, the possible return of Ryan Malone from an upper-body injury that has cost him two games and the arrival of newly-acquired defenseman Brendan Mikkelson from the Calgary Flames give coach Guy Boucher the option of going either way, depending on Malone’s status come game time.

The loss of former Habs prospect JT Wyman to an upper-body injury in Ottawa on Thursday is mitigated by the return of Brett Connolly from the Canadian national junior team. Minor-league call-up Pierre-Cedric Labrie, a native of Baie-Comeau, Que., will play his first NHL game.

For the Canadiens, coach Randy Cunneyworth will have captain Brian Gionta available after an 11-game absence with a groin injury. He also said he may dress seven defensemen, but that decision would be based on how successful the team was with that lineup in their 7-3 win against Winnipeg on Wednesday.

Cunneyworth did not tip his hand either way, but it would appear he will be going with seven defensemen tonight based on what some of the players said. If that’s the case, one of Mathieu Darche or Michael Blunden would have to come out, and considering Blunden has seen his role increase considerably since Cunneyworth took over behind the bench eight games ago, Darche could be the odd man out.

Cunneyworth also said defenseman Alexei Emelin, who took a puck in the face at practice Friday, is expected to play with a full cage depending on how he felt after participating fully in the morning skate.
Just about the only thing set in stone is the goaltending matchup, with Boucher electing to go with former Habs goalie Mathieu Garon to face Carey Price, who starts for the 15th time in 16 games.

Here are the very tentative lineups for tonight’s game:


Michael CammalleriTomas PlekanecBrian Gionta
Max PaciorettyDavid DesharnaisErik Cole
Travis MoenLars EllerAndrei Kostitsyn
Michael BlundenPetteri Nokelainen
Josh GorgesP.K. Subban
Alexei EmelinRaphael Diaz
Tomas KaberleChris Campoli
Hal Gill

Carey Price

Martin St. LouisSteven StamkosSteve Downie
Dominic Moore (Ryan Malone) – Vincent LecavalierBrett Connolly
Tom PyattNate ThompsonTeddy Purcell
Pierre-Cedric Labrie - Dana Tyrell
Eric BrewerPavel Kubina
Brett ClarkMatt Gilroy
Marc-Andre BergeronBruno Gervais
Brendan Mikkelson (If Malone is out)

Mathieu Garon
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