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Canadiens vs Blues: Start time, TV schedule and game preview

After failing their first test, can the Habs earn a passing grade against the Blues?

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Canadiens started their week looking for a statement win. The statement they made is not the one they intended.

The Penguins dominated, exploiting Montreal mistakes more effectively than a Canadiens opponent has in some time. Demonstrating tremendous skill and vision, the Penguins put the game out of reach before the Habs got their feet under them, and all of that happened before the Penguins superstars did their damage.

The loss is illustrative of the concerns that have surrounded Montreal hockey for some time. Namely, that the process doesn't justify the results.

Tonight marks the end of a stretch of home games that had the Habs not only winning, but also improving their underlying numbers. With home ice advantage coming to an end for a while, the Canadiens need to show that they're still heading in the right direction.

How to Watch

Start time: 7:30 PM ET
In Montreal: CITYM
In Quebec: RDS
In the U.S. Midwest: FS-MW
Elsewhere: NHL GameCenter, NHL Center Ice

Tale of the Tape

Canadiens Statistic Blues
14-5-1 Record 12-5-1
6-3-0 L10 Record 8-2-0
47.77 Fenwick Close % 52.81
55 Goals For 49
51 Goals Against 35
1.15 5v5 Goal Ratio 1.43
12.3 PP% 25.4
83.5 PK% 79.0

Know Your Enemy

On a night marred by disappointment for the Habs, the St. Louis Blues had a tough go, too. Facing the still Chara-less Boston Bruins, the Blues gave up a first period goal to the Beantowners. 54 minutes later, and despite carrying the play by a wide margin, the Blues still had not cracked Tuukka Rask.

For the Blues the result was not the one they wanted. One point back of the marauding Predators, St. Louis is a true contender in a division that has a handful of them and it's likely that every point will count come season's end. Nevertheless, St. Louis' experience on Tuesday night stands in stark contrast to Montreal's. The result was unfortunate, but the process is sound.

The sensational line of stud prospect Vladimir Tarasenko, former third rounder Jori Lehtera, and the highly-touted Jaden Schwartz resembles the Eller line on steroids. Joakim Lindstrom is a hardworking complement to prized free agent Paul Stastny and last year's revelation, Alex Steen. That depth lets Ken Hitchcock put load up his first line, as Patrik Berglund skates with the recently re-activated David Backes and T.J. Oshie. With Canadian olympians Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester, as well the reliable Carl Gunnarsson and dangerous Kevin Shattenkirk backing them up, the top of the Blues line-up is truly formidable.

What does all of this mean? It means that the Blues' talent, combined with Hitchcock's steady hand, guarantee that the Habs aren't getting off easy. If there were ever a chance to prove that the Habs are capable of earning a win against stiff competition, this game is it.

Last Time Out

The Canadiens last game against St. Louis looked a little bit like the game they played on Tuesday. Alex Steen scored two early goals, and the Canadiens never recovered. Physically dominated, the strong and deep Blues knocked the Habs on their heels and didn't let them up.

The Canadiens have a very talented group, and the type of depth that can match up with even the NHL's strongest teams. But whether it's tactics, or deployment, or simply inconsistent play, the Habs must avoid the pitfalls that have plagued them in the past. As the Penguins showed them last night, good teams just will not allow those errors to go unpunished.

The Habs may not have made the statement they wanted to, but they did learn a lesson. Tonight, we'll see if they can avoid making the same mistakes twice.