On December 18, the Montreal Canadiens left for Boston with a six game road trip ahead of them. Mostly people who followed the club agreed that the team desperately needed some time away from the city. The Habs had just lost their first game under interim coach Randy Cunneyworth and they were hoping to come together on the road, as well as use the trip as a turning point for the season.
Things clearly didn't work out.
The Canadiens lost five of six on that trip and have dug themselves a cavernous hole in the standings. They sit in 13th in the East and trail eighth place New Jersey by nine points.
The keys to making up ground in the East are threefold.
1. The Habs need to rattle off a series of victories.
2. They must beat teams in regulation, as they cannot afford to have Eastern rivals pick up points in a loss.
3. Montreal will need help from other teams.
The good news is the Canadiens play five of their next six games at home and won't have to worry about being away from their families, sleeping in hotel beds and dealing with opposing fans.
The bad news is that the Habs have won only five of 18 at the Bell Centre this year.
Tonight, the Canadiens host the Winnipeg Jets for the third time this season. Montreal beat Winnipeg 5-1 in their home opener, but the Jets bounced back a few weeks ago in Winnipeg and shutout the Habs 4-0.
The Canadiens had an optional skate this morning and all the regulars were there minus Michael Cammalleri and Tomas Kaberle. After the skate, head coach Randy Cunneyworth said he told his players to be ready to play tonight. The coach did not divulge his lineup saying every player is a game-time decision.
All we do know is that Carey Price will be in goal for the Habs.
You can follow me on Twitter @tonymarinaro.