Saturday, September 19, 2009

Canadiens and Senators set to go at it again Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec celebrate Brian Gionta’s goal Friday night - Photo:Sun Media

The Montreal Canadiens travelled to Kanata today for the second of their back-to back pre-season meetings with the Ottawa Senators.

“It’s definitely exciting",” said former Habs winger Alex Kovalev on facing his former team.

Kovalev did not play in Montreal Friday night, but if he had is way would have preferred to play in all six Senators pre-season games.

“We have many young guys trying to make the team,” he said. “ it’s not my decision to make.”

Kovalev has been playing with fellow newcomer Jonathan Cheechoo, who was picked up in the Dany Heatley deal.

The Senators will be looking for their first pre-season win, after having three straight losses.

Ottawa coach Cory Clouston will be looking at tonight’s game very intently as the team begins trimming it’s roster.

"There's an opportunity for guys that play well tonight or might get another look," Clouston said “There's also a chance that somebody could play themself off this team.”

“Whether you are a vet or a young guy trying to make this team, these games mean something. We are looking at how hard they compete.”

The Senators coach also talked about the team’s lack of goal production.

“We’re getting chances, we’re just not scoring,” he said.

“We’ve hit eight posts in three games. It’s hard to explain. The positive is the chances are there. We’re just not scoring.”

Clouston also expects to let Pascal LeClaire play the full 60 minutes tonight in goal.

For the Canadiens, two hopefuls, who impressed coach Jacques Martin Friday, will start again tonight.

Ben Maxwell, who scored Montreal’s first goal Friday night will look to impress his coach further.

“You really get the sense of his nice progression,” said Martin.

“This is a solid two-way player with deceptive speed that he’s shown all through training camp. He worked really hard this summer and we’re seeing the results of that now.”

Eric Neilson, who logged 37 penalty minutes will also be out to terrorize the Senators for another night.

In the event Georges Laraque goes down to injury, it’s nice to see the Canadiens have another tough guy down the pipe.

Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette had a great post-game chat with Neilson Friday, and I came across a quote from Sidney Crosby, his former teammate in Rimouski, on the Habs hopeful.

“He’s very tough. He and another guy shared the heavyweight crown in our league.

He’s not only tough but very fast. He’s not there just to fight, he can skate and he’s a good checker as well.

There are a lot of guys who are tough but have trouble playing hockey, he’s not one of those guys. He can play too.”

- Sidney Crosby 2005 interview with HFBoards

Sergei Kostitsyn has also been cleared by Canadiens’ team doctors for game play and is scheduled to play tonight

Game time is 7:00pm at Scotiabank Place.

Canadiens Lineup:

Goal: Price, Desjardins

Defence: O'Byrne, Spacek, Belle, Benoit, Anderson, Markov

Forwards: Cammalleri, D'Agostini, Lapierre, A. Kostitsyn, White, Maxwell, Johansson, Pacioretty, Stewart, S. Kostitsyn, Neilson, Gomez.

Gomez on playing in Montreal: Rocky Bonanno of talks to the Canadiens center on looking forward to playing in Montreal.

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