Things seemed to be going the Canadiens’ way in St. Louis on Tuesday night - that is, until a pair of goals in the third period helped the Blues to an overtime victory.
Tonight, taking on the New Jersey Devils, the Habs return home to the Bell Centre for the first time in two weeks, hoping to put a difficult five-game road-trip behind them.
The team did, of course, end their road trip with five out of a ten possible points, but none of them came easy. With neither win coming in regulation, the Habs have been playing close games for nearly a month now - you would have to go back to November 12 to find a Canadiens game won or lost by more than a single goal.
Unfortunately, this was not the story of the road-trip. That distinction, instead, goes to injuries. Just two days after replacing Alex Galchenyuk on the top line, David Desharnais, too, went down to an injury that saw him unable to return to the game on Tuesday night.
Left without any depth to speak of at centre, the Habs will be thankful to at least be playing on home ice these next four games, beginning with their first meeting of the year with the Devils.
How to watch
Puck drop: 7:30 PM EST / 4:30 PM PST
In Canada: Sportsnet East (English), RDS (French)
In the United States: CSN-CA
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Gamecenter Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|51.08||Score-Adjusted Corsi %||48.75|
|1.30||5v5 Goal Ratio||0.87|
Though they have now won two straight games, the season has not been an easy one in New Jersey. Those two wins came after finally cracking a four-game losing spell, which saw the Devils lose ground in the early-season playoff hunt. Now sitting just outside of a wildcard spot, the team is eager to start a win-streak.
Offence hasn’t been particularly easy to come by for the Devils thus far, although Taylor Hall has been exactly as advertised through his first 17 games with his new club. Scoring at a point-per-game pace, Hall has been one of few Devils with noteworthy numbers, joining the likes of Mike Cammalleri and Travis Zajac.
Hall made headlines for other reasons after the Devils’ clash with the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday as he leveled Philip Larsen with a hit behind the net, forcing Larsen to leave on a stretcher. Hall was not penalized on the play, and while there has been no word about potential supplementary discipline as of this writing, it seems unlikely.
Young blue-liner Damon Severson has been the Devils’ only defenceman with much production to speak of, as the 22-year-old has recorded 15 points through 25 games. Severson has also been one of the Devils’ better possession players, as only Yohann Auvitu has a better CF% among defencemen on the team.
This will be the first game of a back-to-back for the Devils, as they will return home tomorrow to host the Blues at the Prudential Center. No starter has been named yet, though its difficult to say whether the Habs would rather face Cory Schneider or Keith Kinkaid at this point in the year, as Kinkaid has had the better SV% of the two at .928.
In any event, this game should be a winnable one for the Habs, though we are yet to see how they will adjust to losing their two most productive centremen over the course of two games.