It was just over a year ago today when the Vancouver Canucks ended the Montreal Canadiens’ season-opening nine-game undefeated streak. Tonight, as the venue changes in Montreal’s favour, the Habs hope that so too will the result.
If recent play is any indication, the Canadiens have a decided advantage heading into this match-up. Far from world-beaters in terms of possession so far, the Habs have nevertheless found ways to get it done since opening night - taking advantage of the strong five-on-five scoring chances they have been able to generate.
Meanwhile, Vancouver has put up just two goals combined over the course of their last three games, and sits dead last in terms of score- and venue-adjusted CF% at a dismal 42.65%. This is as winnable a game as the Habs have had all year, and yet a loss would undoubtedly spawn (baseless) comparisons to last season’s collapse.
How to Watch
Start Time: 7:30 PM EDT / 4:30 PDT
National: Sportsnet, RDS (French)
The Canucks are no strangers to undefeated streaks this season, either. It was the Canucks, of course, who were the last to lose a game in regulation - a feat they accomplished in unusual fashion, having failed to lead for a single second during their four-game win-streak. Now losers of five-in-a-row, Vancouver is a team desperate to get things back on track.
Making matters worse for the Canucks is the fact that on the few shots they are able to muster, they haven’t been able to convert whatsoever. Sitting at a league-worst 1.78 goals per game, Vancouver has a 5.88 shooting percentage at even-strength, near the bottom of the NHL. While things won’t stay this bad all year, it certainly won’t get any easier tonight as they try to sneak pucks past Carey Price.
Of the Canucks who have found a way to produce some modest offence, however, Bo Horvat represents something of a threat. With four goals on the year, Horvat hasn’t been weighed down much by his team’s inability to generate offence, and will need to be watched carefully by the Habs blue-liners. Henrik Sedin was off to a great start to the season in his own right with five points in six games, but has been held of the score-sheet three consecutive times since then.
The one thing the Canucks can’t really blame their struggles on is their goaltending, which has been pretty solid to start the year. Ryan Miller may have just one win thus far, but his .939 SV% is in the upper echelon of the league. Jacob Markstrom hasn’t been quite as good at .913, but has three wins anyhow, making puck-stopping an area Vancouver can attempt to build on as they look to find the win column for the first time in nearly two weeks.