The Tampa Bay Lightning take on The Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Center. This will be the second of four meetings between the two teams this season. In the first meeting at the St. Pete Times Forum, now called The Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa beat the Habs 4-3. The return of Ryan Malone, who has been out with a lower body injury, and Brett Connolly, who was on loan to team Canada for the World Juniors, will surely help the momentum of the team. However they still have some key players out with injuries. There’s a brand new face, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, to make his NHL debut from the Norfolk Admirals tonight. Coming off losing the first two games of this three game road trip, The Lightning will be playing with desperation. According head coach Guy Boucher, desperation is the focus of this, and every game.
The Montreal Canadiens have been struggling this season, and are sitting one slot below The Lightning in the Eastern Conference Standings. They have lost seven of their past nine games. They are looking for back to back wins, as they wiped Winnipeg clean on Wednesday night with a 7-3 win. The Lightning are 11-5-0 at home, and 6-14-3 on the road. Two nights ago, even though they played an over-all great game and completely outplayed The Senators, They lost 4-1. Goal tender Dwayne Roloson stopped 20 of 23 shots.
“Desperation is what plays in every NHL game. A team that has less loses period. It’s plain and simple. If we’ve got a lot of talent, got no desperation, it ain’t gonna work. If we’ve got very little talent, (but) we’ve got desperation, it still might work. It’s been the focus of our team last year, this year, and it’s going to be every game.” -Head Coach Guy Boucher
Brett Connolly will rejoin the team tonight, after playing with team Canada in the World Juniors. He skated in all six games. He helped lead the team to a bronze medal, with an A on his sweater, with five goals, six points, and a plus-four rating. Forward Pierre-Cedric Labrie will make his NHL debut with the team tonight after being called up from Norfolk. He has plaed in 29 games with the Admirals this season where he has scored 6 goals, acquired 19 points, and accumulated 63 penalty minutes. He has a plus-17 rating. He has played in 284 career AHL games between the Norfolk Admirals, the Peoria Rivermen, and the Manitoba Moose. He scored 31 goals, 85 points, and 483 penalty minutes. Our new defenseman, Brendan Mikkelson, is not expected to play with the team until Tuesday. Steven Stamkos is the NHL’s league leader with 28 goals. He has had 7 goals in his past 4 games, including a hattrick on New Years Eve. This has been the best four game stretch of his career so far.
Ryan Malone has been day to day with a lower body injury. He will return to the ice tonight. Adam Hall is out indefinitely with an upper body. Victor Hedman is also out indefinitely with a concussion. JT Wyman is out with an injury already, an upper body. Ryan Shannon will be out another 2-4 weeks with a lower body injury, he’s been placed on IR, joining Mattias Ohlund who is out with his knees. For the Canadiens, team captain Brian Gionta has missed 11 games with a lower body injury. He will make his return tonight. Scott Gomez is out with a lower body, as well as Ryan White. Andrei Markov will not play due to a knee injury.
Mathieu Garon was drafted by Montreal in 1996. Though he spend the first 5 season with the AHL affiliates, he had a few call-ups. He earned the full-time backup goaltender spot in the 2003-2004 season. Marc-Andre Bergeron and Dominic Moore played for the Habs in 2009-2010. Tom Pyatt played with them for 101 games. Coach Boucher, Martin Raymond, and Dan LeCriox have been together since 2009 in the same order, they were the coaching staff for The Hamilton Bulldogs. (The Canadien’s top AHL team.) JT Wyman played for the Bulldogs during Boucher’s coaching years, and was called up for 3 games with Montreal.
Mathieu Darche of Montreal skated with The Lighting for 73 games in 2007-2008.
Dolly Dolce @HulaDolly @BoltsByTheBay on Twitter