Having lost three of their last four games, the Montreal Canadiens are mired in one of their worst stretches of the season - scoring one goal or fewer in each of those losses. Though a select few teams in the Atlantic Division pose any type of threat to the Habs’ current division lead, at some point the team will need to find their way back into the win column.
They hope, of course, that tonight will be that night as they travel to take on the struggling New Jersey Devils who, despite their poor season-long performance, are presently enjoying a three-game win streak.
Interesting to watch will be the way Michel Therrien deploys his skaters tonight, as the Habs’ head coach shook things up at practice yesterday. Alex Galchenyuk, who returned just days ago, practiced on a line with Sven Andrighetto and Andrew Shaw, so we shall see if the Canadiens’ bench-boss sticks with that unit when the puck drops at the Prudential Center.
How to watch
Puck drop: 7:30 PM EST / 4:30 PM PST
In Canada: SNE (English), RDS (French)
In the United States: MSG+
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Gamecenter Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|53.00||Score-Adjusted Corsi %||47.10|
|1.36||5v5 Goal Ratio||0.95|
Though recent outcomes have led to dampened spirits in Montreal, the New Jersey Devils are experiencing something opposite of that. Still sitting 13th in the Eastern Conference, the Devils are victors of three consecutive games, putting them just three points out of a wild card spot - granted several teams above them have games in hand.
While playoffs aren’t necessarily out of the question for the Devils, their play so far this season hasn’t suggested they could do much damage even if they somehow get there.
The Devils have been one of the league’s poorest offensive clubs in 2016-17, with the fourth fewest GF/60 league-wide - a likely consequence of their failure to generate much in the way of shots, as only two teams have averaged fewer shots per game than has New Jersey.
Truthfully, Taylor Hall is the only member of the New Jersey Devils that has any notable production to speak of with 29 points in the 36 games he has played in this year - putting him on pace for 66 points over 82 games, one more than he registered last season in Edmonton.
This does beg the question of what kind of a position the Devils might be in had they not acquired Hall last summer after dealing defenceman Adam Larsson to Edmonton. The likes of Travis Zajac and Kyle Palmieri have been solid, but there is little doubt Hall drives the team’s offence.
The Devils, who have historically been quite good at shot supression, have been less-so this season as they continue to rely heavily on their goaltending. The team has asked a lot of Cory Schneider this year, but a .910 SV% from their starter hasn’t helped them very much. Keith Kinkaid has been better, in limited starts, but the problem with the Devils runs deeper than goaltending.
The hope, for Habs fans, will be that a meeting with the Devils will provide the kick-start the team’s offence seems to need. Those Devils, though, have a lot to play for, and are on a roll at a time when every game matters.