The Montreal Canadiens are back to business.
With their record streak now over, the Habs can focus solely on conquering the remainder of the NHL's 82 game regular season grind. Tonight's game, in Edmonton, is their first opportunity to build on what they've accomplished so far.
Despite the emphatic scoreline, the Canadiens' loss to Vancouver on Tuesday marked something of a return to form, as the Habs began to demonstrate some of the good habits that had been absent during the streak-concluding wins over Toronto and Buffalo.
Facing a vulnerable opponent, Montreal has a chance to convert those good habits into points.
How to Watch
Start time: 9:00 PM ET
In the Canadiens region (French): RDS
Regionally (English): Sportsnet East, Sportsnet Ontario
In Canada (English): SN360
Elsewhere: NHL GameCenter, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|53.0||Score-Adjusted Corsi %||44.7|
|2.00||5v5 Goal Ratio||0.72|
Know Your Enemy
With just under one quarter of the NHL's active first overall picks playing in the Edmonton Oilers top six, one would expect the team to have a potent offence. Even with Connor McDavid on board, however, this year's iteration of the franchise is still working on delivering the goals.
The Oilers are generating a slightly fewer shot attempts at even strength than last year's third-to-last place team, and have just under two even strength goals per game to show for it so far. Of course, little of that is the fault of Edmonton's stars; McDavid and Nail Yakupov have formed a sensational new partnership, and Oilers staple Taylor Hall has produced alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The problem in Edmonton this year, as in years past, is on the back-end.
Defensive stalwart Oscar Klefbom and 2nd pair man Mark Fayne have each outperformed their zone starts, but the Oil haven't had much success with the rest of their D corps. Projected starters Justin Schultz and Griffin Reinhart are both injured, and the man who would have slotted in as Edmonton's #1 defender seven months ago will wear the bleu, blanc, et rouge this evening. The injuries have earned promising prospect Darnell Nurse a call-up, but even with his addition, there are still some glaring weaknesses on the back-end.
Cam Talbot, the goaltender acquired for a pocket full of picks during the off-season, is doing his best to keep his head above water. Unless his teammates can tighten things up for him tonight, though, he can likely expect to contend with lots of rubber once again.
Last Time Out
The Canadiens did manage to generate lots of shots last time out, but the game's final score was not reflective of their efforts. Not unlike Tuesday's contest, the Canadiens failed to score on a few high quality scoring chances, and the Oilers ended up with a win that made Montreal look worse than they were.
Brendan Gallagher was the primary catalyst of an offensive engine that doubled up the Oilers on even strength shots, while Alex Galchenyuk pulled some gorgeous moves but couldn't turn them into goals.
The Canadiens had the recipe for success that game, and they demonstrated their potential for victory earlier this week, too. If the Habs can replicate those solid performances, they should be in good shape to exploit the Oilers and add to their league-leading point total.