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Gameday: Briere's return will have to wait as Habs come to town

#5 Montreal Canadiens (32-22-7, 71 pts) at #4 Philadelphia Flyers (33-17-9, 75 pts)
Wachovia Center - 7:00 PM ET - Philadelphia, PA
Radio: 610 WIP, XM 204
This is the open game thread.
Behind Enemy Lines: Eyes on the Prize

The Montreal Canadiens recent freefall has been widely publicized. They've gone 5-11-1 since January 20th and have relinquished a strong hold on an Eastern Conference playoff spot. They've shown signs of turning it around lately, though, with back to back wins entering tonight's game in South Philadelphia.

And despite all of their troubles, they're hanging around the middle of the playoff pack. Sure, they're only ahead of 10th place Pittsburgh by five points, but they're just four points behind the Flyers. But that's what happens this time of year...

So this game is bigger than we may have thought it would be about a week ago. Yeah, like always, we have games in hand. But a win gives us that crucial four point swing and a big six point lead over Montreal. The Habs have lost 10 of 11 on the road.

No Danny Briere tonight as has been reported. Jared Ross has been called up to fill the hole left by Glen Metropolit's waiver. And speaking of Metropolit, he will be in the lineup tonight against the Flyers in what seems like a pretty awkward situation. Metropolit skated with the Flyers during the morning skate at the Wachovia Center, went home, and then found out he was claimed by the Canadiens, according to CSN's John Boruk. He will play with Georges Laraque and Gregory Stewart on the fourth line, which means he will be going head to head with his former linemates Arron Asham and Riley Cote.

Oddly, as reported on BSH's trade deadline coverage yesterday, Montreal made a trade with Dallas that sent Steve Begin to the Stars and Doug Janik to the Habs. After claiming Metro off of waivers today, the Habs sent Janik to waivers. Wouldn't it be funny if Dallas claimed Janik?

Between the Pipes: Antero Niittymaki is in net for the Flyers. Reading between the lines, you assume that Biron will start Sunday against New Jersey in what seems to be the bigger game. Who knows if there is anything to that.

Jaroslav Halak is in for Montreal, his third straight start. He had a 34 save shutout against Vancouver on Tuesday. Halak beat the Flyers with 29 saves on December 18.

Montreal Canadiens Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Alex Tanguay shoulder 01/01/2009
Robert Lang achilles-tendon 02/02/2009
Francis Bouillon groin 02/20/2009
Guillaume Latendresse shoulder 02/02/2009

Questions To Answer

  1. Kukkonen and Alberts are paired together. Sounds bad, how's it turn out?
  2. How awkward is Metropolit's night?
  3. Can Niittymaki keep the goalie controversy going with a solid performance?
  4. Georges Laraque is in town. How badly does he beat down Riley Cote?