The Montreal Canadiens continue their five-game road trip tonight, getting the Western portion of it underway as they visit the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center, where they will look to win a third-straight game.
As the Habs continue to tinker with the defensive pairings, we may see the regular-season debut of Zach Redmond tonight, as news broke yesterday he was practising with the team in Anaheim. Redmond, if all goes to plan, will be able to step in and provide some stability to a third pairing that the coaching staff has thus far been happy to experiment with.
In any event, tonight’s game may be one that sets the tone for the remainder of this Western swing. The team has had its struggles on the road this season, and with a slew of games to go before a return to the Bell Centre, the Canadiens will need to be sharp lest they lose ground in the standings.
How to watch
Puck drop: 10:00 PM EST / 7:00 PM PST
In Canada: Sportsnet East (English), RDS (French)
In the United States: FS-W
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Gamecenter Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|50.62||Score-Adjusted Corsi %||48.88|
|1.42||5v5 Goal Ratio||0.97|
The Ducks, by contrast to the Canadiens, have been jockeying for playoff position early on. Just a single point ahead in the first wild-card spot, this is a team that needs to find ways to consistently string wins together. That has not happened recently, as they dropped three-in-a-row before finally halting the slide in their last game against San Jose.
With that being said, Anaheim has been engaged in a number of very close contests: their last five games have all ended by a score of 3-2, with one coming in the form of a shootout loss to the lowly New York Islanders. As unimpressive as their record in those games may be, they have been keeping games tight and could have been victorious with a few bounces their way.
Part of what has been holding the Ducks back is an apparent lack of discipline. Averaging nearly thirteen penalty minutes per game, Anaheim is the most penalized team in the NHL, and they have paid the price. Their even-strength goal differential is far from glowing, but they haven’t conceded at an alarming rate at five-on-five by any means. It stands to reason, however, that penalties have a tendency to disrupt their offensive flow and, of course, lead to more goals against.
To the surprise of few, the Ducks offensive leaders have been Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, who boast 18 points apiece. Perhaps most notably, though, has been the scoring touch of Ryan Kesler, who is just about on pace to hit the 30-goal plateau for the first time since the 2010-11 season. With Carey Price tending the opposite goal tonight, the Ducks may need to find some offence that has thus far been absent.
John Gibson has been far from perfect, with a .906 save percentage. That’s 35th in the league among goalies playing five or more games; simply not strong enough for a starting goaltender on a team with decidedly average scoring. Surprisingly, Jonathan Bernier has performed admirably in the backup role, with a record of 4-1-1 while posting a .933 Sv%. Should the Ducks send Gibson forward tonight, the Habs may look to draw penalties and take advantage of the two biggest weaknesses miring the Ducks as it currently stands.