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Bartlett: Tough week ahead for struggling Canadiens

John Bartlett
10/25/2011 6:20:24 PM
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MONTREAL - The Canadiens continue to try and fight their way out of 5 game losing streak and it won't get any easier this week with the Flyers in town on Wednesday before a home and home series with the Bruins. Yet, sometimes it takes the biggest challenge to fight through a winless stretch.
 
While the team refuses to use injuries as an excuse, they continue to hit the team it seems almost every game. With Max Pacioretty being the latest casualty, it takes one of the better performing forwards to start the season out of the line-up. It appears he won't see any action in the back to back series with the Bruins, which might take a bit of the circus approach away from the series. None the less, the heat remains on in Montreal.
 
Aaron Palushaj will get another chance on the fourth line after he has been recalled from Hamilton. While the idea of using Alexei Emelin on the wing was tested during practice, the Habs have elected to go with a call-up. The addition of Petteri Nokelainen seemed to generate a little boost at centre ice on the fourth line against the Panthers. In 7:09 of ice time, he threw a hit on his first shift and was 4 for 4 in the face-off circle. Not huge numbers, but a solid start and to be 100% in such a key stat was a positive sign in an area the Habs have struggled in as of late.
 
Raphael Diaz continues to improve every game and is starting to show some confidence in his scoring skills as well. He has 3 points in his last 5 games and is second on the team with 18 blocked shots. He has played his way into a top 4 spot on the blue line and continues to fine tune his game. At the moment, he certainly has earned the most improved player award from the start of the training camp until now.
 
Look for Carey Price to shed the pink pads this week as he continues to search for career win 100. He's not a superstitious person, but let's face it, he's a goaltender and after a while when it's not going well, something gets changed.
 
If the Habs match their effort level against Florida, they'll put up a fight against the Flyers and Bruins this week. And maybe the emotion of those opponents can put them over the top and into the win column.
 
You can follow me on Twitter @BartsBytes
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