Scouting the enemy: The Montreal Canadiens

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Record
: 30-21-7, 6th place in the Eastern Conference (2nd in the Northeast Division)

Leading scorers: Andrei Markov (7 goals, 38 assists), Andrei Kostitsyn: (21 goals, 14 assists)

Blogs: Habs Eyes on the Prize

Well one player the Pens don't have to scout is old friend Alex Kovalev. The original Kovy was "given a break" by Montreal and told to stay and rest rather than go on this road trip, because his play has been sluggish of late and he is "tired". Are the Habs trying to trade Kovalev? Will he somehow rebound back and give them good play down the stretch? Has Kovalev played his last game for them? It seems any scenario is possible in the rollercoaster soap opera sage of "Alex in Montreal". Another player out tonight is MTL's third leading scorer and old buddy Robert Lang. Lang sliced his Achilles (ouch!) and is out for the season, if not his NHL career. Hopefully that won't be the case.

Among players actually in the lineup tonight, keep an eye out for Markov. The Russian defensemen was the #1 star of the Caps/Habs game last night, pitching in three assists (all on the powerplay) in a 4-3 shootout defeat. Markov plays 24-25 minutes a night and will likely be on the ice against Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin all night long. And, as you can tell by last night's performance, Markov directs a powerplay as well as any player in the league. Montreal also recently re-acquired veteran defenseman Mathieu Schneider to give them a little more from the backline. Up front, young gun Matt D'Agostini has provided some spark in the lineup with his speed and by chipping in 10 goals in 36 games.

After posting a four game winning streak in early January, Jaroslav Halak has grown cold; in five of his past seven starts his save percentage has been .900. Carey "Jesus" Price is back in the saddle, but he played last night so it's questionable if he'll play back to back games.

For you fight fans; a man that needs no introduction will be back in Pittsburgh. It will be interesting to see if the undisputed king of the NHL heavyweights, Georges Laraque, will be in an ornery mood coming back to face an old team. Laraque has been hampered by groin and back injuries this season and has only played 24 games. Perhaps even more surprisingly, he only has 42 penalty minutes and six fights. Often times the knock on BGL has been his willingness to fight, something his replacement Eric Godard has had no problems with. If it happens, it could be an epic bout.

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