New York Islanders (8-10-2) at Montreal Canadiens (11-5-3)
7:30 EST | [beer- or phone-like substance] Centre | MSG+
Canadiens blog: Eyes on the Prize
Crazy Adams Northeast. The Canadiens are 11-5-3 and yet are seven points out of first place. They do have two games in hand on the Bruins, but still.
The most important thing to know about the Canadiens on this fine Monday is that they do not (yet) have Mats Sundin. Kidding, kidding. While the Habs don't know what it's like to have Sundin, they do know what they're missing in not having Mark Streit on their powerplay anymore. Of course, the Islanders powerplay -- even with Streit -- is just barely better (15.8% to 15.1%, 22nd and 23rd overall).
Canadiens blog Eyes on the Prize says that without Streit (and Streit's point-cannon predecessor Sheldon Souray), opponents are able to focus on preventing Alexei Kovalev from quarterbacking things from the half boards. It's an entertaining read that goes very deep into the machinations of the Habs PP.
The solution does not lie in the removal of Kovalev per se, but it may require the romoval of him as a focal point. Subtracting the club's most offensively gifted player from the unit is a foolish notion, but reinventing how he works during the advantage is the starting point.
Sooo ... you might say the Isles should blanket Kovalev on the penalty kill. Then again, the PK wasn't the problem when these teams last met. The problem was that the Habs gifted a slow start -- which the Isles took advantage of -- but the Islanders couldn't hold on to a 4-1 lead in the third period of The Game That Shall Not Be Named.
They've since tightened things up, though -- through more consistent application of their forecheck scheme. So if the Isles are fortunate enough to grab a lead tonight, I like their chances of keeping it a little better.
Milestone Watch: Doug Weight is steadily inching toward 1000 points. He's 12 away now, with 19 pts. in 20 games. If he keeps this up, he could get to 1000 by the two home games surrounding Christmas.
|2008 - Doug Weight||20||4||15||19||-1||12||3||0||0||1||36||11.1|
|Career - Doug Weight||1151||269||719||988||-40||909||77||2||34||2508||10.7|