With visions of their playoff loss to the Canadiens dancing in their heads, the Pittsburgh Penguins will take on Montreal at their brand new Consol Energy Centre tomorrow night.
The Canadiens will be looking to repeat the checking blanket they put over Sydney Crosby in last year’s playoff round when he was held to one goal and two assists over the final five games of the seven game series. Crosby did not score a point in last night’s season opening 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. The game marked the official opening of the new Pittsburgh arena.
The Canadiens, losers 3-2 in Toronto last night, will have Michael Cammalleri back after serving his one game suspension but defenseman Roman Hamrlik remains sidelined with his wonky knee. Latest projected return date is the Wednesday home-opener against Tampa Bay. Andrei Markov is still three or four weeks away from his return to the lineup.
Outside of the Canadiens seven game playoff series win over the Penguins, Pittsburgh won three of four regular season meetings last year, outscoring Montreal 15-9.
Canadiens questions to be answered after the opening night loss to Toronto
—Will coach Jacques Martin run out of patience with Benoit Pouliot as part of the Gomez/Gionta line? After six shifts together in the first period against Toronto, the trio was together only four times the remainder of the game as Martin used Travis Moen and Mathieu Darche on left wing.
—With Michael Cammalleri making his return, where does Lars Eller fit in after an impressive debut? The answer is – back on the third line with Jeff Halpern and Maxim Lapierre. But for how long? In Toronto, Eller played all three forward positions, mostly on the left side with Plekanec and Kostitsyn, the Canadiens best line on the night. He also centred Pouliot and Kostitsyn during those three second period power plays and was a right winger with Dustin Boyd and Tom Pyatt once in the third period.
—Carey Price. When will the questions stop being asked? Faced the Penguins once in last year’s playoffs, 14 minutes in a mopup role for Halak in 6-3 Game-One loss April 30th. (0 goals on 3 shots). During the regular season – December 10th he faced 41 shots in a 3-2 loss at the Bell Centre and was named the game’s second star. November 25th in Pittsburgh he was on the losing end of a 3-1 decision. Canadiens outshot 30-19. October 28th was in another mop-up role after Halak was taken out at the end of two periods in a 6-1 loss. Price gave up 2 goals on 14 third period shots. It was a game in which his teammates were basically no-shows.
Here are the projected lines for tomorrow’s game –
LW C RW
57-Benoit Pouliot 11-Scott Gomez 21-Brian Gionta
13-Michael Cammalleri 14-Tomas Plekanec 46-Andrei Kostitsyn
81-Lars Eller 15-Jeff Halpern 40-Maxim Lapierre
32-Travis Moen 17-Dustin Boyd 94-Tom Pyatt
Defence Left Right
75-Hal Gill 26-Josh Gorges
6-Jaroslav Spacek 76-P.K. Subban
45-Alexandre Picard 20-Ryan O’Byrne
Goal 31-Carey Price
Scratches – 57-Mathieu Darche; 44-Roman Hamrlik
Projected Pittsburgh Lines
14-Chris Kunitz 87-Sidney Crosby 9-Pascal Dupuis
56-Eric Tangradi 19-Mike Comrie 71-Evgeni Malkin
24-Matt Cooke 38-Mark Letestu 48-Tyler Kennedy
25-Max Talbot 27-Craig Adams 17-Mike Rupp
44-Brooks Orpik 4-Zbynek Michalek
7-Paul Martin 58-Kris Letang
3-Alex Goligoski 6-Ben Lovejoy
Goal 29-Marc-Andre’ Fleury