After giving up seven goals to the Minnesota Wild last week, the Habs were in need of a response this past Saturday when they took on the New York Rangers. A come-from-behind victory served as just that, and this afternoon the Canadiens will have an opportunity to make it two in a row.
Standing in their way will be the Detroit Red Wings — for years one of the most consistently competitive teams in the National Hockey League, but now finding themselves near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.
The Habs will feel comfortable in this one, especially now that the lineup is starting to get healthier by the day. Motivation can be dangerous, however, and the Wings will have no shortage of that as they’ve dropped both games they’ve played against the Canadiens this season.
How to watch
Puck drop: 3:00 PM EST / 12:00 PM PST
In Canada: SNE (English), RDS (French)
In the United States: FS-D
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Gamecenter Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|53.19||Score-Adjusted Corsi %||48.00|
|1.36||5v5 Goal Ratio||0.95|
An inability to stay healthy has once again plagued the Red Wings, although it hasn’t been the only contributing factor their downfall. Most notably, Jimmy Howard — who has posted a shining .934 save percentage through 17 games — is expected to remain out of action for at least a few more weeks with a lower-body injury. Petr Mrazek, who became a full-time starter last season, hasn’t been nearly as good.
Detroit is also without Niklas Kronwall. The veteran has been on the shelf more than once this year and is now suffering from a groin injury. Fortunately, Mike Green has looked impressive this year, managing to notch two points against the Penguins on Saturday night.
The puzzling thing for Wings fans is that the team’s offence hasn’t been particularly poor at five-on-five. Their 81 even-strength goals is in the upper half of the league, so it is elsewhere that the problems lie.
A major area of concern in Detroit is the man advantage, as the Red Wings’ power-play unit is worst in the league by a fair margin. At just 11.8% efficiency, the Wings’ have netted a mere 17 power-play goals this year.
More concerning, though, may be their inability to keep the puck out of their own net. Few teams allow more goals per game than do the Red Wings, and a lack of power-play production has meant they haven’t been able to cope with defensive deficiencies very well. Of course, losing Howard and Kronwall, not to mention defensively responsible forwards like Darren Helm, has done nothing to help.
It would be a mistake, however, to take the Red Wings lightly. They may not look like Detroit squads of years past, but they’ve proven that they can beat any team on any given night. Putting six goals past the Stanley Cup Champions this weekend, the Habs will need to shore up their defensive play lest they become engaged in yet another high-scoring affair this afternoon.