Defenceman Roman Hamrlik, who went down late in the third period of last night’s win against Carolina at the Bell Centre, didn’t skate with his teammates today at Verdun. However, he joined them for the flight to Minnesota and is expected to suit against the Wild tomorrow night. Hamrlik hobbled off the ice after taking a shot off the left leg vs. Carolina and didn’t return. Both he and head coach Guy Carbonneau agree that the veteran defenceman should be good to go vs. the Wild.
Saku Koivu is looking forward to meeting up with little (6-2, 216 pounds) brother Mikko tomorrow night. However, they won’t have an opportunity to get together socially before the contest. That’s because Mikko and the Wild were in action tonight in Dallas against the Stars. The two Koivu’s, both team captains, are leading their respective clubs in points. Koivu and defenceman Andrei Markov top the Habs with 10 apiece, while Mikko is far and away Minnesota’s most prolific point man, with 13. With brother Mikko nine years his junior, Saku says he’s reliving his youth, at a time when the Canadiens’ captain is entering the twilight of what has been an inspirational career.
Carey Price gets the call in goal against the the Wild. Price was perfect in the shootout last night against the Hurricaines, stopping Matt Cullen, Eric Staal, and Ryan Whitney. However, he was less than perfect when he nonchalanted a puck in his crease early in the second period against the ‘Canes, leaving Cullen to backhand a knuckler past the Canadiens’ netminder for the game-tieing goal at the :40 mark. Price had more egg on his face when he put the Habs in a hole with a delay-of-game penalty with two minutes to play in regulation time after he fired the puck over the glass on a clearing attempt gone wrong. However, the Hurricanes failed to take advantage during the ensuing power play, leaving Captain Koivu to come to the rescue with the winning goal in the shootout.
Head coach Guy Carbonneau was keeping any possible lineup changes close to his vest following today’s morning skate in suburban Verdun. Georges Laraque, Steve Begin and Patrice Brisebois were the odd-men out against the Hurricanes. If there are any changes to the lineup, look for more of the fourth-line juggling we’ve seen from The Coach in the early going. Some arm-chair quarterbacks would like to see Guillaume Latendresse give way to Chris Higgins on the Koivu-Tanguay line. Don’t count me among them. Latendresse didn’t exactly light it up against the Hurricanes last night, but he has been a good fit on this line, so far. In the past, Carbonneau has been hesitant to tinker with his line formations, because of the trickle-down effect such a move would have, throughout the rest of the lineup.
Tomorrow is game one of a four-game road trip for the Habs that will include stops in New York vs. the Islanders Saturday night, and then a five-day break before an encounter in Columbus against the Jackets Friday, and the Leafs in Toronto Saturday. After the game against the Islanders, the Habs will return home before they hit the road again Thursday afternoon for the final two games of this current stretch.