Saturday, April 10, 2010

Habs fate is in their own hands vs. Leafs

P1060077 The Leafs and Canadiens wrap up the 2009-10 regular season tonight, with Toronto looking to play partial spoiler. Photo: Kevin van Steendelaar

The Habs playoffs hopes fall into their own hand Saturday night, as they host the Toronto Maple Leafs to close out their regular season in 2009-10.

All they need is a single point to secure a spot in the post season. A regulation loss means Sunday afternoon scoreboard watching. The Bruins secured a spot with a 4-2 win over Carolina Saturday afternoon.

It could come down to the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday afternoon. The Canadiens would need would then need a Flyers win in regulation or overtime/shootout or a Rangers win in regulation to remain in the playoff race. A Rangers win in overtime or a shootout puts Montreal in ninth.

The Canadiens need to take their destiny into their own hands and plain out win their game. There are no exceptions. A win gives them a shot at sixth with Boston’s last game on Sunday. Fumbling around Sunday before supper time, after blowing two chances already this week, is no way to earn a playoff spot

The Canadiens hold the season series over the Maple Leafs with a 3-1-1 record, but the Leafs have outscored their rivals 15-14.

Jaroslav Halak will get the call in goal and is 2-0-1 with a  2.52 GAA and .929 SvPct against Toronto this season. Halak’s career numbers are very similar (6-2-1, 2.92, .925) in four seasons.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere will get the call for Toronto. The Quebec native’s last start against the Canadiens was with the Anaheim Ducks in October of 2008 when he made 47 saves in a 6-4 victory.

Leafs coach Ron Wilson had been alternating between Giguere and Jonas Gustavsson for most of the remainder of the season, but tweaked the schedule so that Giguere could start in his hometown.

“I appreciate that. It shows a lot of respect for the player,” Giguere told the Montreal Gazette. “It was nice and unexpected. I was maybe going to ask, but didn’t want to ruffle any feathers.”

The 32-year-old netminder has a lifetime 4-2-1 record against the Canadiens, with a 2.84 GAA and .904 SvPct.

Canadiens coach Jacques Martin will make his starting lineup choices closer to game time. There is speculation that Sergei Kostitsyn could be a healthy scratch.

Kostitysn found himslef benched for the latter half of Montreal’s 5-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday and was used sparingly in the teams Friday practice.

Maxim Lapierre, Tom Pyatt and Ben Maxwell are also in the mix of the last-minute decision.

Habs autograph signing Sunday: Canadiens Andrei Markov and Sergei and Andrei Kostitsyn are scheduled to appear Sunday afternoon at 1pm for an autograph signing. Signatures are $25 each. The appearance will be at Classic Auctions, 215 St.- Francois Xavier Ste 104 in Dolson, QC.

Just follow the lynch mob if the Habs lose Saturday. Coincidentally the Rangers/Flyers game starts right about he time the signing will likely be wrapping up.

This day in Habs history: The Canadiens won the first of five consecutive Stanley Cups, defeating the Detroit Red Wings in five games.

Jean Beliveau led the regular season and playoffs in scoring and set a still current NHL record with seven goals in the Finals.

Puck photo: Just a few autographs from my own colllection over the past couple months. From the top and left to right: Dickie Moore, Johnny Bower, Darryl Sittler, Dick Duff, Yvon Lambert and Henri Richard.

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