The Montreal Canadiens are coming off what can be regarded as their poorest game of a season that has seen little success as it is.
The Canadiens were the first team to not take at least a point off the Arizona Coyotes through the first quarter of the season. The team that was just two spots removed from the bottom of the goal-scoring list now sits in 24th after posting five goals on Thursday night.
The climb up the offensive board could have been even greater if not for the play of Charlie Lindgren, who was doing everything in his power to get the win, stoning Coyotes players on breakaways and odd-man rushes, and battling to get in front of shots that the Canadiens’ defence seemed indifferent about preventing.
Montreal showed short bursts of their ability to control the play, with several extended shifts in the offensive zone that only served as a source of frustration, sprinkled amongst what generally seemed to be a lack of interest.
A similar performance tonight would see the Habs obliterated by one of the league’s top teams, so they will need to get things on the rails quickly.
How to watch
Puck drop: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: CBC, Sportsnet, CityTV (English), TVA Sports (French)
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL GameCentre Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
The Toronto Maple Leafs sit comfortably in second place in the Atlantic Division, and are currently matching the NHL’s top team — the Tampa Bay Lightning — with a five-game winning streak.
The last four of those wins have come without Auston Matthews in the lineup, as he has been dealing with an upper-body injury. He is nearing a return to the Leafs’ lineup, and will be a game-time decision for tonight’s game.
While the Habs would have better odds of victory without the sophomore centre in the lineup, it would probably be best for the team’s long-term fortunes if he were able to dress.
One of the top offences operating with all of their available weapons would allow for few delusions about the current state of the Canadiens’ defence after the significant off-season changes that were made. That would also allow a great opportunity for the Habs to show the heart and character that Marc Bergevin has repeatedly stated he’s built his team around.