A narrow victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night has given the Montreal Canadiens something to try and build upon. Finally, after the club dropped four straight contests to open the month of February they have their first win.
Heading back home for the first of a weekend back-to-back before the Habs’ bye week, it will be the St. Louis Blues attempting to prevent Max Pacioretty and co. from stringing together a pair of wins for the first time in over a month.
It certainly can’t be claimed that the Habs are out of the woods just yet. On Thursday, they beat a Coyotes team that has been very beatable, and even then, just barely.
Since the beginning of the new year, these Canadiens have been unable to find any sort of consistency, and considering the length of time that this has continued for, they must count their blessings that they remain atop the Atlantic Division.
How to watch
Puck drop: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: City (English), TVAS (French)
In the United States: NHLN-US, FS-MW
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Gamecenter Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|52.85||Score-Adjusted Corsi %||51.06|
|1.28||5v5 Goal Ratio||1.00|
One thing we can take solace in is the fact that the Canadiens were not the only team having a hard time adjusting to the new year. After a turbulent January, the St. Louis Blues decided to move on from head coach Ken Hitchcock, replacing him with Mike Yeo, formerly the bench boss of the Minnesota Wild.
After the switch, things have improved for the Blues. Now sitting, albeit uncomfortably, in a Central Division playoff spot, the Blues are winners of four of their last five games under the watchful eye of Yeo.
Impressive have been their margins of victory since the beginning of the month, as well, twice scoring five goals or more, and recording two shutouts along the way.
The Blues, under Hitchcock, struggled to find lines with much semblance of chemistry. That has not, however, affected the production of Vladimir Tarasenko. The 25-year-old is on pace for his most productive season to date, and has by far been the Blues’ most important contributor.
Kevin Shattenkirk has been equally impressive on the blue line with 38 points in 55 games, also on track for the best season of his career. There have been rumblings over the past couple of seasons that Shattenkirk could be on the move, and we’ll see if the Blues are really ready to pull that trigger now that they have a tenuous hold on a playoff spot.
Unfortunately for the Blues’ offence, they are likely to be a man short on Saturday night as first-line pivot Paul Stastny suffered a lower-body injury on Thursday night that now has him listed as day-to-day. Add to that the recent news of a season-ending knee injury to Robby Fabbri, and their offence has taken a massive hit in recent games.
Stastny was a major factor the last time these teams met back in December, recording a goal and an assist en route to a 3-2 Blues victory in overtime. It was Jaden Schwartz, though, who took home first-star honours with a three-point night. For a Habs team that has had trouble keeping the puck out of their net, even a decimated Blues lineup boasts enough offensive threats to make tonight’s game a difficult one.
St. Louis is a team now trending in the right direction. Coming off a win, the Habs hope to be one as well, but they face a tough opponent in trying to prove it.