There is nothing quite like facing Les Habitants, no matter how far they have fallen from the dynasty that they once were. The Bell Centre is, by far, the best place not in New York City to see a hockey game. Their fans are hardcore and it is utterly infuriating seeing them invade the Garden. But it does make for a better atmosphere in the building so no complaints there.
The only thing worth complaining about is how the Rangers can't seem to put forth an even effort against the Habs over the course of a season. From the 1979 Cup Finals to the horrible 6-5 loss in Montreal two seasons back to the two-goal lead blown in the first match last season to the January see-saw of going from a 6-2 win to a 6-0 loss in a span of six days, the Rangers simply let the Canadiens flip the switch. Unacceptable.
Familiar Foes: The mighty munchkins of Gionta, Gomez and playoff hero Cammalleri should still provide a large chunk of the Canadiens offense. Tomas Plekanec was re-signed and the Habs decided to keep Andrei Kostitsyn (while letting his brother go to Nashville). Andrei Markov will be back in bleu, blanc et rouge by the time the Canadiens take on the Rangers this season.
N00bz: As Markov heals, P.K. Subban will get plenty of ice time to prove that his superb playoff performance was not a fluke. Speaking of flukes, Carey Price is back in the Montreal crease so the Habs added Alex Auld to back him up. Personally I think that there will be another netminder by the end of 2010 (Jose Theodore?) but we will have to see. Seeing as they sent Halak packing, John Davidson only sent back a pair of mediocre prospects and one should make the Montreal roster - Lars Eller. But seeing as Eller couldn't make the bad Blues, he shouldn't threaten the Rangers too much. Benoit Pouliot came over late last year for Guillaume Latendresse and flourished - if he can keep it going he be a big threat for the Rangers.
Last Year: Saturday, October 24th 5-4 OT Habs win; Sunday, January 17th6-2 Ranger win; Saturday, January 23rd 6-0 Habs win; and Tuesday, March 16th 3-1 Habs win.
This Year: Tuesday, January 11th @ MSG; Saturday, January 15th in Montreal; Saturday, February 5th in Montreal; and Friday, March 18th @ MSG.
What They Mean To Blue: A rival for 85 years, there is no other team outside of the Atlantic Division who brings the kind of passion to MSG like the Habs do. Hopefully this season will see the Rangers finally keep the pressure on rather than being satisfied with momentary success.