P.K. Subban

Subban ‘not too worried’ about Montreal’s power play woes

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Things haven’t been going well on the power play of late for the Montreal Canadiens.

In their past five games, the Habs have gone 0-for-17 with the man advantage and, as you’d expect, this is a big problem for the fans there.

Everyone can relax though, P.K. Subban says everything will turn around as Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette shares.

“Every team goes through this,” said defenseman P.K. Subban, who leads Montreal with 15 power-play points. “I’m not too worried about it. I think that we’re moving the puck well, we’re creating opportunities. This time of year, it’s tough because teams are bearing down. We need a bounce here or there, but our power play has always been good and it’s going to continue to be good. Right now, we just have to continue to do the right things. The puck’s not going in for us, but it will.”

The power of positive thinking compels you, P.K. On the upside, they’re hitting the road and have a pair of the poorer penalty killing teams on the schedule with Ottawa (20th) and Toronto (27) coming up. On the downside, they’ve also got games against two of the better kills in the league in Pittsburgh (1) and Detroit (6).

If the Habs return home still struggling on the power play, those two minutes of attack time might get really awkward.

Goalie nods: Bishop back for Bolts, Brodeur starts in Montreal

Ben Bishop
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News and notes from around the crease…

Ben’s back

Ben Bishop will play for the first time in four games when the Lightning take on the Rangers at MSG tonight.

Bishop, who is 22-5-3 with a 1.86 GAA and .935 save percentage, was sidelined with a wrist injury and backed up last night as the Bolts lost 3-2 in Columbus.

For New York, Henrik Lundqvist will look for his fourth straight win. He stopped 37 of 38 shots in a stellar 4-1 victory over the Flyers on Sunday.

Au revoir, Marty?

Martin Brodeur could be playing his last game in Montreal tonight when the Devils take on the Habs.

Brodeur, a Quebec native who’s father was the longtime Canadiens’ team photographer, has been sitting behind Cory Schneider for the last three games and hasn’t played well in 2014, going 0-1-1 with a 3.97 GAA and .846 save percentage.

This is the last time the Devils will visit Montreal this season, having already played at the Bell Centre on Dec. 2 (a 3-2 Habs victory).

Tonight, Brodeur will go up against Carey Price in the Canadiens’ goal.

Elsewhere…

Maple Leafs at Bruins: Jonathan Bernier in for the Leafs. Tuukka Rask likely for Boston.

Sharks at Capitals: Antti Niemi vs. Philipp Grubauer

Islanders at Panthers: Kevin Poulin vs. Tim Thomas

Flyers at Sabres: Steve Mason vs. Jhonas Enroth

Avalanche at ‘Hawks: Semyon Varlamov vs. Corey Crawford

Coyotes at Blues: Mike Smith vs. Jaroslav Halak

Flames at Predators: Karri Ramo vs. Carter Hutton

Senators at Wild: Robin Lehner vs. Darcy Kuemper

Oilers at Stars: Ilya Bryzgalov in for Edmonton. Kari Lehtonen likely for Dallas.

Markov, pending UFA, wants to stay in Montreal ‘for the rest of my career’

Andrei Markov
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Andrei Markov wants to be a Canadien for the remainder of his playing days, and he’s not afraid to said it.

“Maybe I’m going to sign another contract tomorrow. Maybe in another month. We’ll see,” Markov said, per the Montreal Gazette. “I’d like to stay here for the rest of my career.”

Markov, 35, has spent his entire 13-year career in Montreal, appearing in over 700 regular season and 50 playoff games. He’s played in a pair of All-Star Games and emerged as one of the league’s better offensive defensemen, posting a career-high 64 points during the 2008-09 campaign.

The last few seasons, though, have been a struggle.

A slew of knee injuries saw him miss over 180 games in a three-year span. There were major concerns that the injuries might be of the career-ending variety, given Markov was well on the wrong side of 30.

But to his credit, he has returned and played well for the Habs, scoring 30 points during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign and 24 points through 46 games this year. Along with P.K. Subban, Markov is one of the anchors of Montreal’s 10th-ranked power play (Subban leads the Habs with 12 power play assists, Markov is second with 11.)

He was also named to Russia’s Olympic squad last week, the third time he’s been selected to represent his country at the Winter Games.

Financially speaking, Markov will be an interesting case study. He’s in the final of a three-year, $17.25 million deal — carrying an average annual cap hit of $5.75 million — and could net a fairly large sum on the open market, given 1) the cap’s going up, and 2) veteran offensive defensemen really cashed in last summer (Mark Streit signed for $21 million in Philly, Sergei Gonchar got $10 million from Dallas).

Markov is hoping he’ll get his money in Montreal, but acknowledged nothing’s in the works just yet.

“Marc [Bergevin, Montreal’s GM] is interested to talk to me but there’s nothing specific now,” he said. “There is nothing I can say right now.”

Canadiens will list Briere, Emelin as healthy scratches tonight

BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Daniel Briere #48 of the Montreal Canadiens warms up to play the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on November 27, 2013 in Buffalo, New York.
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When the Montreal Canadiens take on the Dallas Stars tonight, they’ll be doing so without the help of Daniel Briere or Alexei Emelin. Both players are healthy, but coach Michel Therrien isn’t interested in using either of them, according to the Montreal Gazette’s Pat Hickey.

This isn’t the first time Briere has been sent to the press box and on top that, his playing time has been limited this season. The 36-year-old forward is averaging just 12:38 minutes per game after agreeing to a two-year, $8 million contract that runs through 2014-15.

Speaking about contracts that Montreal might regret, the decision to scratch Emelin comes just a couple months after they signed him to a four-year, $16.4 million contract. That deal doesn’t even take effect until next season and already there are causes for concern.

He started the season on the sidelines due to a knee injury and his playing time has dipped from 19:40 minutes per contest in the shortened campaign to just 17:35 since his return. It’s also a discouraging sign for Team Russia when it comes to the 2014 Winter Olympics. Their defensive core was already a significant question mark and Emelin’s struggles serves to further complicate things for them.

Canadiens move atop the Atlantic Division with win over rival Bruins

Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens
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The Montreal Canadiens continue to roll, right on up to the top of the Atlantic Division.

The Canadiens took over first place in the division thanks to a 2-1 win over their long-time rivals, the Boston Bruins. In fact, the Habs jumped past the Bruins in the division standings.

The win improved Montreal’s record to 18-9-3, however the Bruins do have two games in hand on the Habs.

Trailing after the first period, the Canadiens got a pair of second-period goals from Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty, before holding on for the win after that.

Pacioretty now has four goals in his last five games.

But the story of this game wasn’t the score. In the first period, Bruins’ defenseman Johnny Boychuk was taken off the ice on a stretcher after being hit into the corner boards by Pacioretty.

The incident occurred less than five minutes into the game. Pacioretty was assessed a minor penalty for boarding.

“As soon as I saw the stretcher come out I wanted to puke. I felt awful,” said Pacioretty of the Boychuk incident, according to TSN’s John Lu.

According to Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com, a source indicated that the injury is to the lower back, but isn’t expected to be serious.