Marinaro: Canadiens can't afford to sit back and wait for help

Tony Marinaro
1/6/2012 1:35:19 PM
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The Florida Panthers can expect some support from Montreal tonight.

As it stands, the Canadiens trail New Jersey by seven points for the eighth and final playoff spot in the east. That can all change tonight as the Devils and Panthers square off in New Jersey.

The Canadiens can't afford to just sit back and wait for other teams to help them out, however. They have to go out and take care of their own business, much like they did in their 7-3 drubbing of Winnipeg on Wednesday.

Despite the Habs' poor overall record, there is room for optimism. The seven goals scored last game was a team high on the season. That mark eclipsed their six goal effort against the Senators in Ottawa. Both offensive outbursts have come under the guidance of Randy Cunneyworth. The Habs coach has adopted a more aggressive fore-check. The players are saying the new message is play to win instead of playing not to lose.

The Habs will host the Tampa Bay Lightning tomorrow night. It should be interesting to see if they can duplicate their effort from their last game. It should be noted that after beating the Senators 6-2 just ten days ago, the Habs lost their next game vs. Tampa.

Randy Cunneyworth is hoping history won't repeat itself. Many members of the Lightning are from La Bell Province and will come to play in front of their family and friends, and Cunneyworth is well aware of it. He pushed the pace at practice today to ensure that his team is ready to go as well. He has told his players to stay hungry.

The good news is that reinforcement is on the way in the form of Brian Gionta. The Habs captain has missed the last eleven games. He will be a welcomed weapon on offence.

Not all the news from practice was positive, however, as rookie defenceman Alexei Emelin took a Yannick Weber shot to the face. The bloodied Emelin had to be helped off the ice. Luckily, it appears the injury is a minor one.

Cunneyworth says the puck cut Emelin inside the mouth but did not hit a bone. He went on to say that he might dress seven defencemen against the Lightning.

Forward lines at Friday's practice:

Cammalleri - Plekanec - Gionta
Pacioretty - Desharnais - Cole
Moen - Eller - Kostitsyn
Darche - Nokelainen - Blunden

You can follow me on twitter @tonymarinaro

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