With Noah Juulsen back out west, the Habs are down to 28 uninjured players vying for the 23 spots available on the opening day roster. For the five Habs who may be Ice Caps come Sunday night, time is running short.
Dustin Tokarski will start on Saturday, and his performance may give us an answer to the burgeoning mini-controversy that has evolved throughout camp. Meanwhile, Charles Hudon, Sven Andrighetto, and Jacob de la Rose have only sixty more minutes to state their case for the big leagues. Of course, the demotion of some or all may be a foregone conclusion, especially if the administration rules in favour of "established" NHLers like Devante Smith-Pelly or Brian Flynn.
Most difficult to solve, however, is the problem on the back-end. With nine NHL-calibre defenders available, though, at least the decision is being made from a position of strength.
How to Watch
Tale of the Tape
|49.1||Score-Adjusted Corsi For %||50.4|
|1.19||5v5 Goal Ratio||1.04|
*All stats are from the 2014-15 regular season.
Know Your Enemy
The Ottawa Senators are also on their final opportunity to evaluate their bubble players, but in Ottawa, it sounds like many of the decisions have already been made.
The Senators' third pairing, featuring Jared Cowen and Mark Borowiecki, is the team's glaring weakness, and the Habs took full advantage last night. While prospects like Chris Wideman offer a higher upside, management appears to have used intangible qualities as their basis for carving their third pairing in stone. It may require a sustained period of poor regular season play for change to happen.
Otherwise, tonight's game may represent one final chance for the Senators to ice a lineup that best resembles what opening night will look like. Whether it's re-inserting Kyle Turris, or wrapping up experiments like Curtis Lazar on the second line, the time for final tweaks is here.
Last Time Out
The Canadiens positioned themselves well for success on Thursday evening, doubling the shot output of the Senators. Sadly, the Sens more than doubled up the Habs where it matters: on the scoreboard.
Disappointing outcome aside, there was lots of reason for optimism. Despite his attestations otherwise, Max Pacioretty appears ready to go. Even better, players like Nathan Beaulieu look ready to make a real impact this season, on the ice and the score sheet. Best of all, the Galchenyuk line looks poised to give the Habs the type of 1a line they haven't had in forever, ensuring that the offensive pressure is not laid solely at the feet of whatever line Pacioretty plays on.
With the regular season looming, the Canadiens can use as much momentum as they can get heading into Wednesday night. Tonight, the Canadiens get one last shot to find more opportunities for optimism.