Canadiens at Lightning - Game Preview

Richard Wolowicz

After losing 3 straight, the Canadiens take on the Lightning, losers of 4 straight. Which team will break their streak?

Last year the Montreal Canadiens split the season series with the Tampa Bay Lightning, each team winning two games in regulation, but the Canadiens outscored them 12-9.

What may tell a better story though is that the Canadiens outshot the Lightning 111 to 84 over the season series. Extend that to Fenwick events, and the Canadiens lead 163-119, in Corsi events, the Habs were ahead 244-174.

Overall, this means the Habs had greater than a 57% share of possession against the Lightning last year, and that was under Randypuck. Under the Canadiens' stronger possession system this year, it could create a lopsided game as far as possession goes.

The Lightning have been one of the worst possession clubs in the NHL so far this year, but they have a winning record in their first 11 games anyway due to extremely high shooting percentages. The Lightning have 13 players above league average shooting percentage, including 8 different players above 15%. That kind of shooting luck doesn't last, and it's possible that this current 4 game losing streak for Tampa could continue for a long time.

Anders Lindback, brought in to solidify the goaltending situation in Tampa Bay, hasn't helped. His .902 save percentage is significantly below backup Mathieu Garon.

Speaking of regression, after the Canadiens' game against Toronto, it seems like the team has regressed quite a bit towards the mean. The 1040 PDO from last week is now a much more humble 1019, a sustainable number given the Canadiens have elite goaltending.

Against the Lightning last year, Max Pacioretty was easily the most dangerous Canadiens forward, something that would be more than welcome to see today. Pacioretty is still without a goal to start the 2013 season, in spite of 21 shots on net.

One thing to keep an eye on with Tampa is always the former Hab factor. Benoit Pouliot, Tom Pyatt, Marc-Andre Bergeron, and Mathieu Garon are just the tip of the iceberg when compared to the man behind the bench, Guy Boucher.

There are questions about Boucher's system though. After a year of dominance in Tampa Bay, it seems like the NHL has adjusted to the supposed wunderkind of coaching. This is the second straight year that Tampa Bay is one of the worst teams in the NHL based on possession metrics. Whether that is a problem with Guy Boucher's system or Steve Yzerman's player acquisition remains to be seen, but these two highly touted hockey men were supposed to create a contender out of the Bolts, and so far it's been a flop.

Carey Price gets the start, as he'll likely be a hell of a lot sharper than he was on Saturday against the Leafs. A win tonight would put the Canadiens back into the race for the Northeast division title.

Is today the day Erik Cole wakes up?

Montreal Canadiens Tickets

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