The Thrashers are currently riding high on a three game win streak. Two of those wins, 5-0 last Friday over the Washington Capitals and 5-1 Wednesday night over the Detroit Red Wings, were against top-tier teams. The Canadiens are one of those teams this year. The Habs currently lead the Northeast Division with 29 points, and are doing so behind some stellar goaltending from Carey Price. Price, you might remember, was at the center of some controversy last season when his stats (2.77 GAA, .912SV%) didn't exactly exceed the presumed backup, Jaroslav Halak's, stats (2.40 GA, .914SV%). Price got chased from his starter position in favor of Halak, who led the Canadiens to the Eastern Conference Finals. Halak's thank you was a trade to the St. Louis Blues, and Price was given, yet again, a vote of confidence by Canadiens brass. Not by their fans.
Fast forward to this season, and Price is the reason that they're in first place. He's absolute money on the road, going 5-3-0 so far this season with a 1.88 GAA and a .937 SV%. It's odd, then, that the Habs would elect to start new back-up Alex Auld tonight against the Thrashers. Auld has started exactly one game so far this season for the Canadiens, and while he had a 1.00 GAA and a .968SV%, allow me to remind you just how small of a sample size one game is (especially when that game is against the Islanders). This seems to be a case of underestimation of an opponent, and the Thrashers really aren't the team that you need to underestimate at this time. Auld's one game last year against the Thrashers saw him end with a 5.52 GAA and a .800 SV%. Tonight might not be much better. Auld is 2-4-0 all-time against Atlanta, with a 3.45 GAA. This doesn't seem to be the wisest decision for the Habs, but considering that they play Buffalo tomorrow night in an inter-division game, it does make sense.
Keep in mind that the last time that the Thrashers won four in a row at home was in 2007, the season that the team made the playoffs. Would a four game winning streak at Philips be an omen of better things to come? Probably not, but it couldn't hurt.