Pittsburgh Penguins at Montreal Canadiens
Pittsburgh - 16-38-12 - 44 pts - Last in NHL (7 pts behind)
Montreal - 31-25-9 - 71 pts - 8th in East
Is anyone paying attention to the NHL right now? What about in Pittsburgh? I'm guessing not too many people are... with the Yinzers just getting over their Super Bowl hangovers, and Pitt in the NCAA tournament (with a real chance to make the Sweet 16, thanks to Bradley knocking off Kansas), there isn't much room to spare for the Pens right now. But that's okay - we'll persevere.
Tonight, the Pens take on the Habs, who are struggling to hold onto the final playoff spot. The Thrashers are breathing down their necks, as are the Islanders and Maple Leafs to a lesser degree. They've lost two straight games at home, including most recently to the Hurricanes, who they would face in the first round if the season were ending today.
The Canadiens are led by Alex Kovalev, who the Penguins tried to sign before the season started. See this article by Dave Molinari in the Post-Gazette. The headline is a little bit deceiving - if you read the article, it basically says that Kovalev was getting ready to sign with Montreal and the Pens asked what he was looking for. He replied, and the Pens were unable to match that, so Kovie signed with the Habs. When you look at it, it was a smarter move for the Pens. They signed Ziggy Palffy instead at $3.5M for three years, instead of the $4.5M Kovalev wanted. Had Palffy not retired, he would certainly be ahead of Kovalev in scoring, and I'd argue that Ziggy was better at minding his own zone that Kovie, who I remember as usually being quite uninterested in back-checking.
Anyway, Marc-Andre Fluery will face the opposing goalie from his first NHL start a few seasons ago, Huet. The ironic thing is in that game (versus the LA Kings), the Pens allowed 47 shots while only mustering 11 of their own. Sound familiar? Let's hope there's no repeat tonight...
Let's Go Pens!