There’s a cliché in sports about taking things one game at a time, but when the regular season is 82 games long, that’s a pretty high standard to hold a player to. If the Canadiens’ games against the Panthers, Sabres, and Lightning this week are any indication, that standard seems to have relaxed somewhat over the past seven days.
The Habs will have four days to prepare for the New York Rangers after their final tune-up of the regular season tonight, but it’s probably fair to assume that preparation has already begun.
Tonight then, we’ll see how the Canadiens choose to spend their last sixty minutes of game time before the real games begin anew.
How to Watch
Puck drop: 7:00 pm EDT/4:00 pm PDT
In Canada: SN (English), TVAS (French)
In the Red Wings region: FS-D
Elsewhere: NHL.tv, NHL Gamecenter
Tale of the Tape
|52.76||Score-adjusted Corsi %||47.66|
|1.23||5v5 Goal Ratio||0.87|
*Statistics do not reflect Montreal’s game with the Lightning last night.
The preparation is also underway in Detroit, as the Red Wings try to figure out how to make the most of the next eighteen months. For the first time in 26 years (for the first time in my life!), the Detroit Red Wings will not be participants in the NHL postseason, and that makes an organizational trend in progress for a few years a little more real and urgent.
The Red Wings have a couple of great young pieces (you can look no further than Andreas Athanasiou, provided you turn your head quickly enough to catch a glimpse) and a couple of reliable vets with which to complement them (what’s not to love about Frans Nielsen?). They also have a number of gaping holes in their lineup, both created and exacerbated by years of poor drafting and uninspiring work in free agency. It’s not easy (or even possible, necessarily) to replace the contributions of players like Nicklas Lidstrom or Pavel Datsyuk, but today’s Red Wings look to have scarcely begun that task.
With Athanasiou doubtful for tonight’s contest, and Anthony Mantha’s season over after a meaningless fight against the Lightning’s Luke Witkowski, the game appears set to proceed without Detroit’s two brightest young lights in their lineup. That means that instead of watching the Habs defenders try to protect their flank from Athanasiou’s speed, or watching to see if Mantha could reprise his game-winning individual effort from the last time these two teams met, we’ll instead have to content ourselves with Riley Sheahan’s quest to avoid ending his 80-game season with zero goals against a makeshift Montreal lineup.
Claude Julien confirms that Price, Pacioretty, Markov, Radulov, Weber and Emelin won't make the trip to Detroit. #GoHabsGo— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) April 8, 2017
The 2016-17 regular season is about to come to an end, and then another season will begin in its place. For one team, that new season starts in October. For the other, it’s only days away.