Another December, another string of challenges for the Montreal Canadiens.
Last year’s Habs watched their season implode in the twelfth month of the calendar year. Neither Brendan Gallagher nor Carey Price played that month, and by the time Gallagher returned in January, the damage was done.
The recent absences of Alex Galchenyuk, David Desharnais, and Andrew Shaw have posed to challenges to this year’s Canadiens. Tonight, with Andrei Markov joining his three teammates on the injured list, the Habs will have to find a way to persevere.
How to watch
Puck drop: 7:30 PM EST / 4:30 PM PST
In the Canadiens region: SNE (English), RDS (French)
In the Ducks region: PRIME
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Gamecenter Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|52.44||Score-Adjusted Corsi %||49.58|
|1.579||5v5 Goal Ratio||0.97|
So far, the 2016-17 Habs have showed no sign of letting up. The Canadiens have, outside of one brief dip, solidly out-possessed their opponents for about the last twenty games or so. Similarly, outside of the team-wide collapse in the first period against San Jose on Friday, Carey Price has given his squad a chance to win each time he’s taken to the crease. The problem, more often than not, has been scoring goals.
After that anomalous performance against the league’s worst team, and the solid beating laid on the also-not-very-good New Jersey Devils just prior, offence has been tough to come by. To wit, the Canadiens have taken 50% of the available points in their last three games, but have scored just five goals total.
With the Anaheim powerplay running hot, the Canadiens will need some goals tonight. The Ducks have scored on just under one-quarter of their opportunities, led by Ryan Kesler’s seven tallies and Cam Fowler’s five. Thankfully, Montreal should have every opportunity to keep pace.
Anaheim goalie John Gibson got the W in last night’s contest with the Maple Leafs, which means that backup Jonathan Bernier is likely to get the start tonight. Bernier has been quite possibly the worst goaltender in the league through the first third of the season, but even with Gibson in net, the Ducks are apparently prone to defensive collapses. In their last eight games, Anaheim has given up five or more goals four times, succumbing to the vaunted offenses of teams like the Flames, Hurricanes, and Red Wings.
Despite a mighty effort, the Canadiens were stonewalled by Gibson three weeks ago and came away with the loss. But if the Habs can replicate their efforts in Anaheim’s zone, and Mark Barberio can acquit himself better than Markov did on the second pair (Markov was Montreal’s worst 5v5 possession player that night at +11/-26), the Tricolore should be well positioned to end the mini-drought they’ve suffered through their last three games.