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Scouting The Enemy: Montreal Canadiens

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We take a deeper look into tonight's opponent, the Montreal Canadiens.

Just watching TV with my bro...
Just watching TV with my bro...
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight at 7:30, the Panthers will join the Canadiens at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec in one of seven NHL games on the slate for this evening. This will mark the 80th meeting between the two clubs and the second of five this season. Florida owns a 36-28-9 edge against the Habs, with six ties. Their .551 win percentage ranks as their fourth best against any club.

The Panthers extended the Canadiens to a shootout in their last meeting, on December 30th at the BB&T Center. Brendan Gallagher (11) scored late in the second for a 1-0 lead, and Nick Bjugstad tied it up with less than two minutes remaining in regulation with his 13th of the year. PA Parenteau ended it with a shootout goal in the third round for the Habs. Roberto Luongo took the overtime loss despite stopping 33-of-34 shots on the night. * Box Score

Florida's last win in the series came on December 29th, 2013 with a 4-1 decision at BB&T. Dmitry Kulikov (2), Brian Campbell (5), Aleksander Barkov (7) and Sean Bergenheim (8) all lit the lamp for the Cats. Scott Clemmensen backstopped the Panthers, turning aside 21-of-22 shots in his penultimate victory for Florida. * Box Score

Now, more on this team from Montreal.

Forward Corps

First Line

67 - Max Pacioretty

Pacioretty is a 6'2", 210 lb. winger from New Canaan, Connecticut. The 26-year-old seven-year veteran was Montreal's first round pick in 2007. Last season, he led the NHL with 11 game winning goals. He currently leads the league with a plus-29 rating.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

375

133

128

261

This Season

56

26

22

48

Last 10 played

10

5

5

10

vs. Florida

18

2

9

11

Assets: Has great scoring acumen, which is highlighted by breakaway speed, good hands and a laser-like wrister. Displays the required frame to win battles in front of the net and the four corners of the ice.
Flaws: Needs to become more aware on the ice, since he gets hit often in open ice. Is still a bit fundamentally raw, as he learns how to better use his size, speed and timing with the puck. Injuries are a concern.
Career Potential: Big, speedy scoring winger with upside.

51 - David Desharnais

Desharnais is a 5'7" pivot from Laurier-Station, Quebec. The 28-year-old, now in his sixth NHL season, was initially acquired by the Habs as a free agent after he totaled 374 points in 262 QMJHL contests.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

313

59

136

195

This Season

56

9

23

32

Last 10 played

10

2

6

8

vs. Florida

14

5

5

10

Assets: Skates well and possesses a lot of offensive creativity--likes to control the puck, and keeps his feet moving at all times. Crafty, he works very hard at improving his overall game. Is not scared of going into heavy traffic areas, despite his smallish stature.
Flaws: Is not big and lacks strength, which causes problems when battling for pucks against bigger NHL opponents. Needs to improve his face-off prowess, as well as continue to work on his play down low in the defensive zone (and without the puck in general).
Career Potential: Diminutive but skilled and productive center.

22 - Dale Weise

Weise, a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, is a 6'2", 210 lb. winger. Selected by the New York Rangers in the fourth round of the 2008 draft, he's skating with his third club over five NHL seasons. He is not used to first-line minutes.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

232

22

31

53

This Season

53

9

14

23

Last 10 played

10

3

4

7

vs. Florida

4

1

0

1

Assets: Has good size and plays the game with honest effort and sound work ethic. Excels as a forechecker. Will also drop the gloves if the situation warrants it.
Flaws: Doesn't have natural talent, so points are always the result of maximum effort--even at lower levels. Isn't very useful if he's not hitting early and often.
Career Potential: Depth crash-and-bang winger.


Second Line

27 - Alex Galchenyuk

Galchenyuk is a 21-year-old third-year natural center from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Selected third overall by Montreal in 2012, his minutes have increased by over two minutes in each of his seasons. He will pass his career high in minutes tonight.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

169

38

56

94

This Season

56

16

20

36

Last 10 played

10

3

1

4

vs. Florida

8

2

1

3

Assets: Has outstanding vision and creativity, and is adept at both playmaking and also scoring goals himself. Also owns projectable size and two-way upside.
Flaws: Has already suffered a serious knee injury early on in his career, so he must prove his durability over time. Also, he needs more work without the puck (in all three zones).
Career Potential: Talented scoring center with great upside.

14 - Tomas Plekanec

Plekanec is a 5'11", 198 lb. center from Kladno, Czechoslovakia. The 32-year-old 11-year-veteran was Montreal's third round pick in 2001. He's ranked sixth amongst active players with 17 career short-handed goals.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

735

193

286

479

This Season

56

17

23

40

Last 10 played

10

4

4

8

vs. Florida

34

8

5

13

Assets: Has excellent quickness, hockey sense and playmaking instincts. Is polished in the defensive zone and at the face-off circle. A determined skater, he excels when killing penalties. Is also quite low-maintenance.
Flaws: Lacks the physical strength and toughness to dominate on the ice, so he struggles to shut down bigger centers. Must step up his play when the games matter most. Isn't a true sniper and defers too much.
Career Potential: Excellent two-way center.

11 - Brendan Gallagher

Gallagher is a 22-year-old product of Edmonton, Alberta. In his third NHL season, the 5'8", 175 lb winger was selected by the Canadiens in the fifth round of the 2010 draft. His next point will be the 100th of his career.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

181

47

52

99

This Season

56

13

17

30

Last 10 played

10

1

3

4

vs. Florida

8

1

3

4

Assets: Owns great speed and tenacity on the forecheck. Can score goals, set up linemates and play a solid two-way game. Always leads by example when on the ice.
Flaws: Must prove he can make an impact at the National Hockey League level despite his significant lack of size (5-9, 163 pounds), so he needs to add bulk.
Career Potential: Talented, hard-working winger with upside.


Third Line

8 - Brandon Prust

Prust, a 30-year-old from London, Ontario, was a third round selection in 2004 by the Calgary Flames. The 6'2", 192 lb. winger is in his eighth NHL season with his fourth team.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

425

39

64

103

This Season

56

4

9

13

Last 10 played

10

1

0

1

vs. Florida

15

4

1

5

Assets: Works hard and loves to get in the face of his opponents. Has solid defensive instincts, is an aggressive forechecker and excellent penalty killer. An outstanding team guy that leads by example, he'll rumble with anyone. Can also be a quality checker or energy winger.
Flaws: Won't score a lot of points at the National Hockey League level, since he lacks above-average speed and overall natural skill. Takes on all comers, so he tends to play hurt a lot and also doesn't win a lot of his pugilistic battles. Also, he is known to take a bad penalty now and again.
Career Potential: Physical defensive energy agitator.

81 - Lars Eller

Eller, a 6'2", 201 lb. center from Rodovre, Denmark, is a 25-year-old six-year veteran. He was originally selected by the St. Louis Blues with the 13th pick in the 2007 draft, making his debut with the club in 2009-10. He joined the Canadiens for his second season, and has been with the team since.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

337

54

65

119

This Season

51

9

7

16

Last 10 played

10

1

0

1

vs. Florida

15

1

3

4

Assets: A good skater, he doesn't mind playing in high-traffic areas and also displays sound defensive acumen and penalty-killing prowess. Has playmaking skills and creativity, some finish and the versatility to play either center or wing.
Flaws: Needs to improve his shot in order to score more goals at the highest level. Must also continue gaining more strength to better handle bigger defenders and the rigors of the National Hockey League.
Career Potential: Talented two-way forward with upside.

26 - Jiri Sekac

Sekac is a 6'2", 195 lb. winger from Kladno, Czechoslovakia. The 22-year-old rookie joined the Habs after spending the last three seasons between Prague Lev in the KHL and Sparta Praha in the Czech league.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

47

7

9

16

This Season

47

7

9

16

Last 10 played

10

0

1

1

vs. Florida

1

0

0

0

Assets: Has projectable size for the NHL game, plus the hands of a natural scorer. Is versatile up front and owns a lethal shot (and quick release).
Flaws: Needs to bulk up more in order to withstand the rigors of the highest level over time. Also needs to continue to work on his defensive-zone coverage.
Career Potential: Versatile sniper with good upside.


Fourth Line

49 - Michael Bournival

Bournival is a 5'11", 196 lb. winger from Shawnigan, Quebec. He was selected initially by the Colorado Avalanche in the third round in 2010. Now 22-years-old, he's in his second NHL season.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

83

9

8

17

This Season

23

2

1

3

Last 10 played

10

0

0

0

vs. Florida

4

0

0

0

Assets: Has very good defensive instincts, plus some offensive upside. Can play both center and wing. Excels on the penalty kill and when shutting down opposing skilled forwards.
Flaws: The jury is still out on his long-range offensive potential at the highest level, so he may have to settle into a bottom-six forward role. Is also undersized for the NHL.
Career Potential: Versatile two-way forward with some upside.

25 - Jacob de La Rose

De La Rose is a 19-year-old selected by the Habs in the second round of the 2013 draft. A product of Arvika, Sweden, tonight will the 6'2", 190 lb. winger's eighth NHL contest.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

7

0

1

1

This Season

7

0

1

1

Last 10 played

7

0

1

1

vs. Florida

0

0

0

0

Assets: Has a very projectable frame and plenty of two-way upside. Works hard, is versatile enough to play both center and wing, is aggressive in the corners and can also produce points.
Flaws: Must add bulk and get physically stronger in order to maximize his two-way game in North America. Also, the jury is still out on his setup skills at the highest level.
Career Potential: Talented, versatile two-way forward with upside.

60 - Christian Thomas

Thomas is a 5'9", 174 lb. winger from Toronto, Ontario. The 22-year-old was chosen in the second round of the 2010 draft by the New York Rangers. He played one game with the Blueshirts in 2012-13 and two with the Habs last season so this is officially his third season.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

17

1

0

1

This Season

14

1

0

1

Last 10 played

10

1

0

1

vs. Florida

0

0

0

0

Assets: Owns an outstanding shot and a sniper's mentality. Can score plenty of goals at lower levels but he's also capable of setting up his linemates. Is defensively aware and has hockey sense.
Flaws: Must overcome his lack of size (only 5-9, 176 pounds) in order to maximize his National Hockey League potential. Isn't as tough or gritty as his father (Steve Thomas).
Career Potential: Diminutive, depth scoring winger with a little upside.

Defensemen

First Pairing

79 - Andrei Markov

Markov is a 6', 207 lb. defender from Voskresensk, USSR. The 36-year-old veteran was selected by the Canadiens in the sixth round back in 1998 and is now in his 14th season with the club.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

821

105

369

474

This Season

56

7

25

32

Last 10 played

10

2

3

5

vs. Florida

45

9

17

26

Assets: Is smooth and poised under pressure; he moves the puck swiftly and efficiently. Skates very well and is capable of leading the rush thanks to natural offensive instincts. Has a good point shot and can quarterback a power play.
Flaws: Is somewhat consistently prone to injury, in particular his chronic knee woes, and doesn't use his frame a lot to initiate contact. Can struggle against some of the NHL's biggest forwards, as a result. Is a bit undersized.
Career Potential: Elite offensive defenseman, when healthy.

76 - PK Subban

Subban is a 6', 206 lb. defenseman from Toronto, Ontario. Montreal chose him in the second round of the 2007 draft. Now in his sixth season, the 25-year-old was the 2013 James Norris Memorial Trophy winner.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

340

53

154

207

This Season

56

11

29

40

Last 10 played

10

0

8

8

vs. Florida

15

1

7

8

Assets: Has outstanding skating ability and excels at rushing up ice with the puck. Can quarterback a power play and also initiate a lot of contact. Displays a flair for the dramatic. Shoots the puck with aplomb and also gets under opponents' skin. Is adept at playing a shutdown role.
Flaws: Needs to simplify his game, since he tends to run around in his own end at times. Also tries to do too much with the puck. On-ice antics may at times annoy his own teammates and the coaching staff. Could stand to become a bit more disciplined on the ice (and in the dressing room).
Career Potential: Talented, flashy all-round defenseman with big upside.


Second Pairing

77 - Tom Gilbert

Gilbert is a 32-year-old, 6'2", 206 lb. blueliner from Bloomington, Minnesota. He was selected initially by the Colorado Avalanche in the fourth round of the 2002 draft, and is now in his ninth NHL season with his fourth team, including the Panthers last season.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

572

41

172

213

This Season

52

2

7

9

Last 10 played

10

0

2

2

vs. Florida

6

0

4

4

Assets: Is very mobile and a good skating defenseman. Moves the puck quickly and efficiently out of the defensive zone, and can also provide his team with offense. Good on the pinch, he knows his way around the offensive zone. Can log big minutes.
Flaws: Has improved his compete level but still isn't physical enough for a 6-2, 206-pound blueliner, which limits his overall effectiveness in the defensive zone. Can also make mistakes inside his own end with the puck. Lacks consistency.
Career Potential: Mobile big-minute defenseman.

74 - Alexei Emelin

Emelin is a 6'2", 219 lb. 28-year-old defenseman from Togliatti, USSR. The Canadiens chose him in the third round in 2004, and he is now playing in his fourth season with the team.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

218

11

38

49

This Season

54

2

11

13

Last 10 played

10

0

1

1

vs. Florida

11

0

2

2

Assets: Loves to initiate contact (he'll hit anything that moves) and excels at the open-ice body check. Is extremely mobile and a very strong skater. Owns great size.
Flaws: Remains unpolished in the offensive zone. Also lacks game-to-game consistency in all facets of the game of hockey. Will cough up the puck on occasion.
Career Potential: Physical, mobile defenseman with a little upside.


Third Pairing

28 - Nathan Beaulieu

Beaulieu is a 22-year-old defender from Strathroy, Ontario. The Canadiens chose him with the 17th overall pick in 2011. 6'2", 191 lbs., he's playing in his third NHL season.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

64

0

9

9

This Season

41

0

5

5

Last 10 played

10

0

0

0

vs. Florida

1

0

1

1

Assets: Skates very well and has great instincts from the back end. Can log huge minutes and play an all-around game. Boasts a fair amount of offensive upside.
Flaws: Needs to become physically stronger in order to play against big, skilled National Hockey League forwards. Is a work-in-progress defenseman in several areas.
Career Potential: Talented, mobile defenseman with good upside.

64 - Greg Pateryn

Pateryn, a 6'2", 222 lb. from Sterling Heights, Michigan, is a 24-year-old fifth round selection of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2008.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

3

0

0

0

This Season

3

0

0

0

Last 10 played

3

0

0

0

vs. Florida

0

0

0

0

Assets: A big defenseman with good strength, he understands his role and limitations. Can play a physical game and also has pretty good defensive smarts.
Flaws: Isn't a great player when he has the puck, so he must continue to learn how to keep his game simple and effective. Will occasionally take a bad penalty.
Career Potential: Big depth defenseman with a little upside.

Goaltenders

Probable Starter

31 - Carey Price

Price is a 6'3", 221 lb. backstop from Anahim Lake, British Columbia. The 27-year-old eight-year veteran was selected by the Canadiens with the fifth overall pick in 2005. Check out his last 10 games there below. That's not a misprint.

Games

W

L

OTL

SV%

GAA

SO

Career

414

211

148

46

0.919

2.46

30

This Season

45

32

11

2

0.935

1.93

5

Last 10 played

10

9

1

0

0.962

1.08

3

vs. Florida

12

7

4

1

0.945

1.74

2

Assets: Is technically strong and always plays in control. Has a huge frame and covers a ton of net. Rarely appears rattled in the cage. Reads the play and follows the puck exceptionally well. Has improved in terms of handling the puck.
Flaws: Could stand to be more fiery at times, but that's just not in his makeup. Must also show greater willingness to battle to make key saves at the most dire moments in a game, even when he's down and out.
Career Potential: Franchise goaltender with upside.


Probable Backup

35 - Dustin Tokarski

Tokarski is a 5'11", 198 lb. netminder from Humboldt, Saskatchewan. The 25-year-old four-year veteran was initially chosen in the fifth round of the 2008 draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Games

W

L

OTL

SV%

GAA

SO

Career

22

8

7

3

0.909

2.77

1

This Season

12

5

4

2

0.914

2.67

0

Last 10 played

10

4

4

2

0.913

2.65

0

vs. Florida

2

1

0

0

0.976

0.71

0

Assets: Is positionally sound and always focused in the crease. Holds a mental edge on most 'keepers. Rarely beats himself with bad decisions in the crease area.
Flaws: Tends to get beat on his blocker side, which still needs more work. Also, he's a bit undersized for the goaltending position at the National Hockey League level
Career Potential: Solid goalkeeper with some upside.

Thanks for reading. The scouting reports were provided by www.sportsforecaster.com, based on starting lineups provided by www2.dailyfaceoff.com and www.goaliepost.com. All stats were culled from www.hockey-reference.com. Make sure to check back here later for the GameThread, the Recat immediately following, the AM recap tomorrow morning, and Florida's next opponent, the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.