The Montreal Canadiens will take to the ice tonight and shortly thereafter board a plane for their second game in as many nights for the second time in under a week. This time, though, the Habs will hope to get the back-to-back started in a better fashion.
We all remember last week’s mishap against the San Jose Sharks, of course - the game that brought us Carey Price’s infamous stare. Luckily, things have gotten better for the Habs since then, with the team winning two straight against stiff opposition.
This evening’s test will be no easier, as the Minnesota Wild come to town riding an impressive eight-game winning streak; the second longest active streak in the NHL.
That recent run of form for the Wild has seen them shoot into second in the Central Division with the fewest games played in the Western Conference. The Wild, too, play on consecutive nights as they will take on the Rangers tomorrow at Madison Square Garden, leaving the goaltending situation up in the air.
How to watch
Puck drop: 7:30 PM EST / 4:30 PM PST
In Canada: SN360 (English), RDS (French)
In the United States: FS-N, FS-WI
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Gamecenter Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|53.28||Score-Adjusted Corsi %||50.01|
|1.62||5v5 Goal Ratio||1.52|
While we can’t say for sure just yet who the Wild will turn to as their puck-stopper tonight, the back-to-back may be of benefit to the Habs should they opt for back-up Darcy Kuemper.
Minnesota boasts the league’s highest combined SV%, and though Kuemper has been reliable when called upon, it has been Devan Dubnyk leading the charge with a .948 SV% and a 1.55 GAA - setting the stage for a terrific showdown with Carey Price if he gets the start.
Dubnyk’s play is part of the reason that Minnesota owns the highest PDO in the NHL, which may be of some concern to fans in the State of Hockey. Win streaks like the ones they are on always involve bounces going the right way, but the rate at which they are scoring - and stopping - goals is likely unsustainable over a full season.
With a 9.90 shooting percentage as a team, the Wild are the fourth most efficient team - just one spot behind the Canadiens, who have been converting on over 10% of their shots on goal.
Newcomer Eric Staal has been worth the investment for the Wild, as he has seen a revitalization after a disappointing final season in Carolina and a poor stint in New York. Staal leads the team with 25 points through 31 games, already closing in on his point total for 2015-16.
Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund are each on pace for career years in Minnesota, which is great news for the team as Zach Parise’s production has been a bit worrisome. Jason Pominville is showing very few signs of recovering from last season’s scoring dip as well, so the Wild will be thankful to have younger players stepping up when needed.
This is the first meeting between the Wild and Canadiens this season, and its an important one for each side as both will surely hope to get their pre-holiday back-to-backs off on the right foot.