The day was February 14th, the year 2010. An Ottawa Senators team was 4th in the conference, having rode an unexpected 11-game winning streak to a 36-23-4 record. Their 76 points had placed them comfortably above the pack, safely in a playoff position, and one of the toasts of the Eastern Conference. A much weaker Montreal Canadiens team was 29-28-6, their 64 points creating a gap seemingly impossible to cross.
It's now March 23rd and these two teams are tied with 79 points. Montreal has gone 7-1-1 since the Olympic break, earning 15 of a possible 18 points. Ottawa, meanwhile, has been in a freefall, going 1-7-1. That's good for 3 points.
This is a big, big game. Both teams are only 3 points up on 8th-place Boston and 4 points up on a surging 9th-place Atlanta team. Some things to note:
- Pascal Leclaire was pulled for the 7th time in 29 starts against Dallas on the weekend, meaning it's Brian Elliott's turn (again) to try and carry the load. Or get a win. A win would really help.
- Alex Kovalev is facing his former team, so hopefully he'll be motivated enough to get his first point in the month of March.
- Jaroslav Halak is in goal once again for the Canadiens, meaning it's another battle between 2003 9th-round picks. Halak is 1-1-1 this season against Ottawa, and 3-4-1 lifetime.
As always, join us in the comments for lively discussion and pictures of circles.