24 hours after an important divisional clash in Ottawa, the Canadiens and Senators will go right back at it in Montreal this evening. Last night’s game had an intense, playoff-like feel to it, complete with a third-period lead change that was neutralized by the Senators before 60 minutes was up.
It remains to be seen if its actually in the Habs’ interest to win the Atlantic division, but with a win in the shootout yesterday, they’ve improved their chances. With two more points tonight, they can make it even harder for the Senators to catch them.
How to watch
Puck drop: 7:30 PM EDT / 4:30 PM PDT
In Canada: SN (English)
In the Canadiens and Senators regions: RDS (French)
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Gamecentre Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|52.6||Score-adjusted Corsi %||51.4|
|1.19||5v5 Goal Ratio||0.83|
*All statistics before Saturday night’s game.
One of the key narratives heading into last night’s game was the goaltending battle, with Carey Price (in Vezina form of late) taking on an Ottawa team buoyed by elite goaltending from Craig Anderson and solid support from Mike Condon. For a team that struggles to create offence, Ottawa’s goaltending is critical in these match-ups and any prospective playoff series. Anderson and Price were each solid last night as the two team’s traded scoring chances, with each goaltender giving up an unfortunate goal but making up for it with some outstanding saves. Tonight, should either of Condon or Al Montoya get the call, the dynamic could change completely.
Of course, regardless of who starts for the Canadiens, their job should be made a little easier by the continued absence of Mark Stone. Bobby Ryan took advantage of a Brandon Davidson miscue to walk to the slot for a nice scoring chance, but in general, the Senators relied on their second-tier forwards in Ryan Dzingel, Derick Brassard, and Alexandre Burrows to generate offence. The Habs should be pleased with their success in slowing down the likes of Kyle Turris and Mike Hoffman, for example, but they also have some depth concerns of their own to work out.
The line of Dwight King, Steve Ott, and Torrey Mitchell started their shifts exclusively in their own zone and they tended to remain there, giving up the most shot attempts against (15 for Mitchell and Ott, 16 for King) despite playing the fewest minutes (King’s TOI was the highest of the three, playing 11.2 minutes at 5v5).
The line may not be paid to score goals, but it’s hard to justify their effectiveness in preventing them when they give up twice as many shot attempts as they produce. If the Habs are to be successful in the postseason, they need four lines and three pairings that they can rely on. Right now, with the fourth line struggling and the Petry/Davidson pairing coming away with some poor results as well, it looks like they may only have three lines and two pairings capable of shouldering the load at the moment.
Tonight, however, not much of that matters. Like the playoffs, there’s not much rest for either team, and not much option to shorten the bench significantly. The Canadiens are looking for another two points, and they’ll need a full team effort to get them.