Looking back over the Montreal Canadiens schedule so far, it's tough to find a win over a truly elite opponent.
The best example might be when they took down the St. Louis Blues in mid-November. Their victory over the upstart Islanders comes close to qualifying. Otherwise, though, their record against the NHL's best is pock-marked with failures.
When the Habs and Penguins last met, the game was previewed as another such test for Montreal. Needless to say, it didn't go well.
Tonight, they get a re-take.
How to Watch
Start time: 7:00 PM ET
In Canada (French): TVA
In Canada (English): City
In Pittsburgh: Root Sports
Elsewhere: NHL GameCenter, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|49.5||Fenwick % (Within 1)*||51.3|
|1.24||5v5 Goal Ratio||1.31|
*Prior to last night's games.
Know Your Enemy
Fans of the Montreal Canadiens have gotten used to a General Manager unafraid to take action to solve a problem with his roster. On Friday afternoon, Jim Rutherford went out and did just that.
With Patric Hornqvist and Pascal Dupuis both facing significant injuries, not to mention Blake Comeau's recent absence, the Pens' were in need of some offensive reinforcements. Rutherford fixed that issue, and did so with a move that make sense now and in the long-term. Assuming he plays, what does Perron's acquisition mean for the Habs tonight? It means that the Penguins just got tougher to play against.
Perron was one of the real bright spots on a desolate Edmonton team, generating points at a higher rate than almost all of his teammates. Perhaps even more impressively, he accomplished the Atlassian feat of hiking up his teammates' shot differentials toward equilibrium, even if the outcome of his efforts were akin to using a hot air balloon to lift up a submarine.
Playing amongst the Pens' weapons, the Quebec native should have an even greater impact. For a Habs team looking to avoid the type of disappointing outing they put forth last time they played Pittsburgh, their test just got a little harder.
Last Time Out
Crisis? Cataclysm? Catastrophe? Choose a synonym for disaster, and you have a pretty good idea of how Montreal handled the Penguins last time out.
The Habs were dominated by a well-organized team, and whenever they mounted a push back, they were stymied by Marc-Andre Fleury. Against most teams, the Canadiens can claim a significant talent advantage, but against a team led by two of the world's best hockey players, relying on the skill gap isn't enough.
For five consecutive games, the Montreal Canadiens have demonstrated that they are capable of beating the teams they are supposed to beat. Starting what might be their toughest month of the season, it's time for the Habs to be competitive, regardless of the team they're facing.