There is no team in the National Hockey League that has a bigger magnifying glass on them than the Montreal Canadiens.
Following a tumultuous off-season and a roller coaster pre-season, the pundits have come out in force to proclaim Montreal a bust for this season, but there have been many positives for the Habs lately, and they are looking to prove people wrong.
Two wins in their last two pre-season games, including a huge 9-2 victory against the Ottawa Senators, showed a Habs team capable of scoring in bunches, and being defensively stable to boot. Carey Price looked great, and young players like Victor Mete and Jacob de la Rose showed in that game that they are able to be contributors at the NHL level.
How to watch
Puck drop: 7:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM PDT
In Canada: TSN2 (English/Habs Region), RDS (French)
In the United States: MSG
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Gamecentre Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|1.19||5v5 goal ratio||0.81|
*All stats from the 2016-17 season.
If there is one improvement on the Habs from the start of the pre-season until now, it is the increased chemistry between all the lines. Gone are the days of the line blender, and we may see more consistent line-ups come from head coach Claude Julien. Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Drouin, and Brendan Gallagher have clicked wonderfully so far, looking as if they’ve played together for years, as shown by these two very similar goals against Ottawa:
Another bright spot in that game was Alex Galchenyuk, as he finally found his groove and seems to be ready to produce this year.
Buffalo is looking to improve on their dismal record last season, and rewarded their star centre Jack Eichel with an eight year, 80 million dollar contract extension this past week, cementing his place as the cornerstone of their franchise for years to come.
However, Eichel himself may not be enough to propel the Sabres to the playoffs this season, as Buffalo will be competing against a much tougher Atlantic Division. Players like Rasmus Ristolainen and Evander Kane are good support pieces for the young phenom, as well as Sam Reinhart, another young player who is looking to improve upon a 47 point campaign.
Tonight will be a test for both these teams, as they know how vital it is to start off on the right foot. Carey Price looks to contend yet again this year for the Vezina, and looks to be in mid-season form. We will also see if Victor Mete can last in the NHL, as the 18 year old unexpectedly made the team after heavily impressing during training camp.
But perhaps the biggest story line facing this edition of the Canadiens, will be their ability to score goals. Will they show the potential they showed in Ottawa in their final pre-season game, where their forward depth led them to victory, or, will they struggle to score following the loss of Alexander Radulov and Andrei Markov, two of their important offensive players from last season?
Tonight, we find out, as the Canadiens open the 2017-18 season against the Buffalo Sabres.