FLAMES (0-2-0) at CANADIENS (1-1-0)
TV: RDS (HD), SNET-CGY (HD), TSN-HABS (HD)
This is the first of two meetings between Calgary and Montreal this season. The clubs split the 2010-11 season series with each getting a win on home ice.
The Flames are trying to avoid their first season-opening three-game losing streak since 2007-08, while the Habs are looking to rise above recent injuries to forward Mike Cammalleri
(out 10-14 days with a leg laceration due to teammate Yannick Weber
's skate cutting him on Sunday vs. Winnipeg) and defenseman Jaroslav Spacek
(out 2-3 weeks with an upper-body injury as a result of an Evander Kane hit on Sunday). Also, Montreal goalie Carey Price
is one win shy of 100 and can join the ranks of NHL legends like Terry Sawchuk, Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy, who all reached the mark by the age of 24.
Calgary has looked like a legitimate contender based solely on the first periods of both Sunday's game at Pittsburgh and Monday's contest at St. Louis, but the second and third periods of those games revealed a team desperately struggling to keep pace.
The Flames' most recent contest against the Blues looked exactly like how they began against the Penguins, with ultra-aggressive play leading to another 1-0 first-period lead. But instead of building on that intensity for the rest of the game, Calgary laid back and let the Blues seemingly score at will, resulting in a 5-2 defeat.
"I don't know what to say, honestly," forward Alex Tanguay
told the Flames' official website on Monday. "We played two terrible games to start the season. Both of them were terrible and this is not who we feel we are."
After splitting its first two games of the season, Montreal continues to plug away despite a rash of injuries. In addition to Cammalleri and Spacek recently getting shelved, the Habs were already dealing with blueliners Chris Campoli
and Andrei Markov
on injured reserve. But the Canadiens don't appear to be missing their top defensemen too much in the early going, having surrendered just three total goals over their first two games.
The Habs have received great defensive help from many of their younger players like Weber, P.K. Subban
, Alexei Emelin
and Raphael Diaz
"I'm really proud of what they've accomplished to this point," veteran defenseman Hal Gill
told canadiens.com in regards to the young defensive corps. "I know I learned a lot from the veterans I played with when I started out, so I really hope I can help out guys in the same way now."
Left wing Curtis Glencross
has tallied a goal each in the Flames' first two games. … Despite splitting his first two starts, Price has been solid in net for Montreal with 46 saves and a 1.52 goals-against average.
Calgary will be without forwards Mikael Backlund
(broken finger), Brendan Morrison
(knee) and Raitis Ivanans
(concussion), as well as defenseman Brett Carson
(back). … Markov (right knee), Cammalleri (leg laceration), Spacek (upper-body injury) and Campoli (hamstring) will all be out of action for Montreal.
Calgary has been outscored by a total of 10-3 over the second and third periods of its first two losses this season.
The season is still young, so panic hasn't fully set into the Flames' locker room just yet. However, coach Brent Sutter is looking for his guys to play a more physical game for the full 60 minutes.
"When we play a lunch bucket type game and we keep the game simple and we do it the right way, we play well," Sutter told the Flames' web site on Monday. "We're an effective team. We have guys right now that feel 'skill, skill, skill' but we've got to get into those tough areas. We've got to win battles."