Prior to Sunday night, the Canadiens had lost only two games all season and just once in regulation. Each time, the team has responded with a victory. Tonight, with a divisional rival in town, the Habs will look to rebound from a narrow loss in Chicago with two points against the Florida Panthers.
Currently sitting at .500, many believed the Panthers were destined for better things coming into the season. Though they haven’t played particularly poorly, they also haven’t quite been able to get over the hump just yet. Accordingly, they find themselves entrenched in the middle of the standings.
The Canadiens, meanwhile, are looking to make it 11-in-a-row at home as Carey Price returns to the crease following Al Montoya’s sixth start the young season. Price has a streak of his own on the line as well, as he has become the first goaltender in NHL history to win his first 10 games; part of a 13-game winning streak dating back to last season.
How to watch
Puck drop: 7:30 PM EST / 4:30 PM PST
In Canada: Sportsnet East (English), RDS (French)
In the Panthers’ region: FS-F
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Gamecenter Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|50.16||Score-Adjusted Corsi %||53.37|
|1.75||5v5 Goal Ratio||0.88|
Trading wins over their past seven games have been the Panthers, failing to find any sort of consistency in their results. This is not for a lack of opportunity, however, as the Panthers have actually been a solid possession team during the first month of the year. The problem seems to lie in an inability to finish, dragging down their PDO.
With the eighth-worst shooting percentage in the league, Florida has to start giving Roberto Luongo and James Reimer - a decidedly average tandem thus far - some run support if they are to climb their way up into a playoff spot.
Significant injuries up front are not making matters any easier on that front, however, as neither Jonathan Huberdeau nor Nick Bjugstad has played a game this season. With two of their top six offensive threats on the shelf, the Panthers have had to look elsewhere for goals.
They’ve found some of that missing offence in the form of one of their lowest-paid forwards. Jonathan Marchessault, the 25-year-old Quebec-native, is scoring at an unprecedented pace for his NHL career. He leads the Cats in both goals and points, but it hasn’t been enough for the Panthers to outscore their opponents at even strength with any regularity.
If the Panthers are to attempt a repeat of last season’s Atlantic Division title, they’ll need to find a way to put the puck in the net. But with the NHL’s best goaltender staring them down, tonight may not be the easiest night for them to get started.