Ottawa Senators vs Montreal Canadiens 3/13/2013

A hot group of Canadiens make a brief laundry stop home tonight to face off against the Ottawa Senators. They went 4-1 on an 8 day trek which began on March 3rd with a victory at Boston. They lost to the Islanders in overtime 2 days later then beat the Rangers before departing N.Y. Next stop was the Sunshine State and 2 more victories over Tampa Bay and the Florida Panthers. After tonight, the Canadiens once again board an airplane for 4 of 6 more away.

In the meantime, Ottawa has hit the skids reversing the “Habs” mark by going 1-4 in their last 5. By the way, for any NHL uninitiated fans “Habs is short for Les Habitants, Montreal’s nickname. The Sens lost 3 in a row to begin the month on a road trip of their own before breaking through against the same N.Y. Rangers in Madison Square Garden that Montreal had also beaten. They too then made a 1 night stand back in Ontario losing to Boston on Monday before once again hitting the road for tonight’s contest.

Game time this evening is 7:00ET in the Bell Centre.

Montreal Canadiens (17-5-4) scored a total of 20 goals while away from Quebec in the last 5 games. For those of you mathematically challenged that’s an average of 4 per game. It should be interesting to see if Ottawa (13-8-5) can maintain their number 1 ranking in goals against average and the number2 spot in penalty killing. It is more problematic than you might think since much of their prior success was the result of excellent goal tending by Craig Anderson who is now out indefinitely. It should be noted, if Ben Bishop is in net for the Senators he did play exceptionally well against Montreal on Feb. 25th recording a career best 44 saves in an Ottawa 2-1 victory. However net minder Robin Lehner may get the start this time for them. This is the 4th and final matchup of the regular schedule for these two teams with the Senators up 2 games to 1 thus far.

The last time the teams met, the Canadiens had not yet acquired Michael Ryder from Dallas who was brought across the border for one purpose, to score goals. He has performed well in 7 games since the acquisition but has been held scoreless in his last 11 contests against Ottawa.

Kyle Turris may be out of his scoring drought after scoring a goal in the loss to the Bruins on Monday. Previous to that he went 21 games without one, but still leads the Senators in points with just 14 total. That pretty much sums up the Sens offensive prowess as they are currently ranked 27th out of 30 NHL franchises in goals scored per game and 21st on the power play.

I’ve got to give the nod to Montreal at home against a team struggling like Ottawa has been doing of late. Look for the Canadiens to prevail, perhaps by a final score of 3-2.

Free NHL Pick: Montreal Canadiens

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