Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Blackhawks have three games remaining in the 2013-2014 regular season. The first of those three games will be played tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. Both teams have already clinched a spot in this years playoffs, the Hawks in the West and the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference. The first game played between these two teams was in Montreal in January. Andrei Markov scored the game winner in overtime to down the Hawks 2-1. Markov, who has been a mainstay in the Canadiens lineup with the 2nd defensive pair, will not be making the flight to Chicago so he can rest for the playoffs. Other players who will not be with the team in Chicago are Alexei Emelin, Douglas Murray, and Olympic goaltender Carey Price. All that being considered, these are the three players to watch for the Montreal Canadiens tonight.
The reigning Norris trophy winner has had a solid season with the Canadiens. Subban is second on the team in scoring with 10 goals and 43 assists for 53 points. Defensively he has had another great season, again being one of the candidates for this years Norris. I watched the game that Montreal played against the Ottawa Senators last Friday in which the Canadiens won 7-4. Subban was playing some very lazy defense at the beginning of the game which lead to three goals in the first 6 minutes of the game by the Senators. He was then benched for most of the remainder of the 1st period. During the second intermission, he came out of the gate for skate-around like a caged Derby horse. He was everywhere on the ice, and when he was finally released from the “doghouse” in the second period, he was the best defenseman on the ice. He will be a key part in attempting to stop the Blackhawks scoring chances.
Pacioretty is the Canadiens leading scorer this season with 39 goals and 21 assists for 60 points. In his last 5 games he has 7 goals including a hat trick in the game against the Senators. He has 11 game winning goals this season. Pacioretty is one of the best offensive players on the Canadiens roster.
With Price not with the team for this game, Peter Budaj will most likely get the nod at goalie for the Canadiens. The last game that Budaj started in was the game against the Senators mentioned earlier. Sloppy defense caused some easy opportunities in front of him which caused him to allow the 3 goals in the first 6 minutes. On the season, he is 10-8-2 with a 2.49 GAA and a .910 save percentage.
This is an important game for both teams as they prepare to make a run for the Stanley Cup. Look for these three players to make an impact in the game for the Montreal Canadiens.