While the Blues didn't play an absolutely horrible game Saturday, they obviously didn't play good enough to beat the Lightning. That ended the three-game winning streak they were on. Of course, that can only mean one thing: Time To Start Another One.
Montreal is in the middle of the Eastern Conference pack, with a record of 8-7-0. They've lost their last two games, so they'll be looking to bounce back against the Blues. They have a +10 goal differential, and are pretty good on both sides of special teams: ranked 3rd in power play at 24.1% and 8th on the penalty kill at 85.2%. It would seem to behoove the Blues to stay out of the penalty box.
Montreal's scoring is led by stud defenseman P.K. Subban; only 3 goals, but 11 assists for 14 points. Tied for 2nd are Alex Galchenyuk (2G / 9A) and Tomas Plekanec (6G / 5A) with 11 points each. Behind them would be the goals leader, young Brendan Gallagher with 7 goals and 10 points overall. So, the Blues are facing a team that is built around a franchise defenseman and is aiming for the development of young talent to boost the scoring. Sound familiar? Be also on the lookout for Lars Eller, number 81 on the ice. When he's not providing bulletin-board material for opposing teams, he's been doing pretty well for himself, scoring 5 goals and 9 points total so far this year. In the long run, I believe the Halak-Eller trade will look like a win-win for both parties.
As for goaltending, the Habs are led by Carey Price, who sports a 6-6-0 record and 2.19 GAA / .933 Sv% stat line. The backup for Montreal is Peter Budaj, with a 2-1-0 record in his 3 starts. He has a 1.34 GAA and a .953 Sv%. It looks like they're happy with either in goal, but I'd expect Price to start tonight:
#Habs: Carey Price obtiendra le départ face aux Blues.— J-F Chaumont (@JFChaumontJDM) November 4, 2013
I believe both coaches are looking at this game as a measuring stick for their teams. The Blues can expect the Habs to come out hard right from the get-go, and the Blues will need to match that intensity. They can't afford to take it easy against another Eastern Conference foe. Unfortunately, the Blues will continue to be without Brenden Morrow (upper body) and Magnus Paajarvi. I'd assume that this would keep the window open for Adam Cracknell and/or Chris Porter to get some ice time. One of these nights, we'll see a reunion of the CPR line. Check in with the morning skate reports to see what the lineup looks like. I believe it's a given that Jaroslav Halak will be in net for the Blues.
Final Verse: Another early one tonight, as the puck drops at 6:30 PM St Louis time. The TV broadcast is on Fox Sports MW, and the radio call will be on KMOX 1120 AM. The game day thread should drop shortly ahead of the puck. Until then, feel free to use this as your GDT warmup. Gather here, lament the loss of the Parros 'stache, and remember your Ps and Qs in the Province of Quebec:
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