On Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena, the Montreal Canadiens will start one tour and finish another.
This evening’s game against the Detroit Red Wings will mark the fourth straight game in which the Habs and their opponent meet for the second time this season. The Tricolore have managed a second win over the Maple Leafs,
a second one-point effort a regulation loss against the Ottawa Senators, and a measure of revenge over a Carolina team that beat them the week prior. Now, they’ll try to match their 5-0 defenestration of the Red Wings two weeks ago.
How to Watch
Puck drop: 7:00 PM ET/4:00 PM PT
In Canada: SN (English), TVAS (French)
In the Red Wings region: FS-D
Tale of the Tape
|51.02||Score-Adjusted Corsi %||47.15|
|1.43||5v5 Goal Ratio||1.00|
Their loss to Montreal marked the beginning of a four-game losing streak for Detroit, broken with an overtime win over Buffalo on Wednesday evening.
If the Wings look a little tired tonight, it may have something to do with the spirited tilt they played in New Jersey last night. After four lead changes, the Red Wings finally took home an overtime win, conveying a penalty near the end of regulation into sustained pressure in overtime and eventually, Mike Green’s wrister from the hash mark past Corey Schneider.
Green’s been a significant source offence for his squad so far, ranking behind only Gustav Nyquist and Henrik Zetterberg in team scoring. And beyond Green, there’s not much of a threat on Detroit’s blue line. With 34 points between them, Andrei Markov and Shea Weber have as many points as all eight defencemen who have suited up for Detroit this year combined. The 31-year-old former Norris nominee is well removed from his heyday with the Washington Capitals, but the Red Wings need Green to put his shot to work like he did last night if their offence is going to be more than one dimensional.
Of course, last night’s win came at a heavy price: Jimmy Howard left the contest early with a groin injury, forcing Petr Mrazek to come in in relief. If Howard can’t go for tonight’s game, that would force Jeff Blashill to decide between playing Mrazek in back to back contests, or putting an emergency AHL call-up in his crease. Either way, the Habs should have a serious advantage in goal.
No matter what, the Canadiens will want Carey Price to be his scintillating Saturday night self, because they have their own injuries to worry about. Neither Nathan Beaulieu nor Charles Hudon has traveled with the team to the Motor City, as each player took a puck to the throat in recent days. Fortunately, however, Artturi Lehkonen is in Michigan and may be ready to rejoin the lineup, perhaps as a tailor-made replacement for Hudon.
Lehkonen’s enjoyed quite the start to his NHL career, performing well in tough minutes and putting together a 10-1-1 record in his first 12 big league games. It would behoove the Canadiens to take advantage tonight of whatever luck Lehkonen is bringing them, because the going is about to get pretty tough.
The Habs will move on from this evening’s contest to their consistently murderous annual California road swing, and it’ll be the middle of January before the schedule truly begin to lighten up again. Montreal is going to have their mettle tested over the next seven weeks, starting with a test they passed with flying colours not long ago.