The Montreal Canadiens have been more successful on the road than at home this postseason, but there is nonetheless a sense of palpable relief within the squad at returning the friendly confines of the Bell Centre.
If the Habs are down 2-0 to the Philadelphia Flyers and facing a must-win tonight - although, in fairness, they're all must-win games at this time of year - better to face the challenge with a boisterous home crowd behind them.
"I think the change of scenery helps a little bit after the way the first two games went," said winger Michael Cammalleri, who is leading the team in scoring with 18 points, but has been held off the scoresheet since game seven against Pittsburgh.
The Canadiens have notched five of their eight playoff wins on hostile rinks, and are a modest 4-6 at home.
If they are to be the first team to come back from an 0-2 series deficit against the Flyers (they are 16-0 when acquiring that head-start in the playoffs), the journey begins tonight.
"We feel good, pumped up," said centre Glen Metropolit.
Canadiens coach Jacques Martin was typically cryptic about his lineup decisions for tonight, although there were indications that wingers Mathieu Darche and Sergei Kostitsyn could make way for a seventh defenceman and the reinsertion of forward Benoit Pouliot, who was cast aside for Game 2.
Jaroslav Halak is expected to get the start in goal, despite giving up seven goals in the first two games of the series.
Blue liner Ryan O'Byrne told NHL.com that he's in the lineup tonight, his six-foot-five, 240 pound presence will be welcomed as the Habs try to parry the Flyers' net-crashing forwards.
But the Canadiens will also have to find a way to kickstart their power-play, which has yet to cash in the playoffs, and resolve deficiencies in their penalty killing, which was virtually impregnable in the opening rounds.
"That's been the difference in the two games. They've scored power-play goals. We haven't scored, and we haven't done the job penalty killing, so we know that, and I think we need to focus on our strengths," Martin said. "When you focus on your strength, you definitely need to have a net presence, but you also need to focus on your strength as a team."Report Typo/Error