On The Brink
Saku Koivu has been the long-time face of the Montreal Canadiens, but hasn't been able to celebrate winning a division title in his 12-season career.
With his team on the brink of winning the Northeast Division, Koivu will only be able to watch.
Needing one point to clinch its first division crown in 16 years, Montreal will be without Koivu on Tuesday night when it visits the Ottawa Senators.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Ottawa -145 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 6.5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 60% of bets for this game have been placed on Montreal +135 (View NHL Bet Percentages).
Koivu, the Canadiens' captain since 1999, was struck in the left foot by a shot on Friday against Buffalo, but assisted on Christopher Higgins' overtime goal in a 4-3 win. Initial X-rays were inconclusive, and Koivu was on crutches during a 4-2 loss to Toronto on Saturday.
On Monday, the team said Koivu has a broken bone in his foot, and he'll miss the final three regular-season games. His status for the playoffs is uncertain.
"He's someone with a lot of experience, he's a leader, he's our captain and he's played in big games internationally,'' Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. ``We'll definitely miss him the rest of the regular season. Hopefully, he'll be able to play once the playoffs come.''
Koivu, who has 16 goals and 40 assists, isn't the only one nursing injuries. Defenseman Mark Streit, the team's third-leading scorer with 12 goals and 46 assists, also took a shot off the foot Friday and may be out against Ottawa (42-29-8).
Streit joins fellow blueliners Francis Bouillon, who's day-to-day (foot) and Mike Komisarek, who hasn't played since March 20 (lower body injury) and is not expected back before the playoffs.
Still, generating offense shouldn't be a problem for the Canadiens. They've scored a league-high 253 goals - one more than Ottawa - led by Alex Kovalev, who has only one of his team-high 34 goals this season against the Senators.
After Montreal scored only 11 goals in its first six games against Ottawa in 2007-08, six different players found the back of the net in a 7-5 win over March 24 that clinched a playoff spot.
"It makes it even sweeter to do it against our nemesis, the Senators," Bouillon told the team's official Web site after that win.
Though Montreal enters this contest with six more points than Ottawa, the Senators have outscored the Canadiens 28-18 while winning five of seven matchups. Much of that dominance has been due to Ottawa's top line. Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza have combined for 17 goals and 25 assists.
But the Senators are coming off a 4-0 loss to Boston on Saturday, and are 1-3-1 in their last five games. Ottawa has won only 13 of 36 games following a 29-10-4 start.
"Thank goodness we had the great start, to be competitive now,'' Senators coach Bryan Murray said. "We're just not playing at that level now and other teams are playing at a better level than they were early on.''
Ottawa entered Monday in fifth place in the East, but ninth-place Washington is just four points back, meaning the Senators could still earn home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs or miss them entirely.
"It's a possibility,'' Alfredsson said. "We know we could lose all three and Washington wins out and we could be out. And then we don't deserve to be in the playoffs, it's as simple as that.
by: Staff Writers - Email Us
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