Montreal Canadiens @ Arizona Coyotes
How to watch
Start time: 9:00 PM EST / 6:00 PM PST
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Coyotes region: Fox Sports Arizona
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/Rogers NHL Live
Carey Price stood on his head to weather an early storm and the Canadiens got their much sought after power-play goal to take an early lead, but a gaffe by the netminder and an early third-period goal from Colorado’s big line saw the Colorado Avalanche emerge as the victors Wednesday night in Denver. Now, having dropped two consecutive decisions, the Habs will hope that three is not the charm as they head to the Arizona desert in the second half of a back-to-back.
Tale of the Tape
|0-2-0||H2H Record (17-18)||2-0-0|
|54.5% (4th)||Corsi-for pct.||50.1% (15th)|
|3.06 (13th)||Goals per game||2.45 (30th)|
|3.23 (23rd)||Goals against per game||2.79 (6th)|
|12.4% (30th)||PP%||16.2% (23rd)|
|77.2% (23rd)||PK%||89.0% (1st)|
Despite the franchise’s best efforts, it is hardly an understatement to say that the Arizona Coyotes fly under the radar for all but the most ardent of hockey fans. General Manager John Chayka has been trying to rectify that for several years now, gradually assembling a team consisting of a mix of established veterans and youthful stars-in-the-making. The 2018-19 season was supposed to be a year filled with optimism; a breakout year where the Coyotes could potentially challenge for a playoff spot in a wide-open Pacific Division.
Instead, the campaign has been torpedoed early on by a rash of injuries to key players, including season-enders for top-six forward Christian Dvorak and starting goaltender Antti Raanta. Hobbled by injuries and inconsistent play, Arizona has limped to a 14-17-2 record, sitting only ahead of the Los Angeles Kings in the division. What was supposed to be an offensively rejuvenated team sits dead last in the NHL in 5-on-5 goals for, and the team has a single victory in their last seven games, a 4-3 overtime success versus the New York Rangers.
However, there is one member of the Coyotes who will not fly under the radar for Habs fans. When Alex Galchenyuk was traded for Max Domi on June 15, 2018, it marked the end of years of speculation regarding the young American’s relationship with coaching and management. What was supposed to be a fresh start for Galchenyuk has turned out to be more of the same, as injuries and inconsistency have plagued his first season as a Coyote.
Undoubtedly, Galchenyuk has had this date circled on his calendar since the schedule was released. The slow start to the year and Domi’s well-documented successes in the Tricolore should only make him more motivated to prove that he was not the inferior player in the trade.
Motivated or not, Galchenyuk has not been the lynchpin in the offence that Chayka and company likely hoped he would become. In what will be a familiar refrain to Habs’ fans, head coach Rick Tocchet has already resorted to moving Galchenyuk from centre to wing and shifting him up and down the lineup. Instead, the Coyotes offence is driven by Derek Stepan, second-year player Clayton Keller, and newly acquired Nick Schmaltz. Defensively, the team relies very heavily on Oliver Ekman-Larsson, with Jakob Chychrun and Niklas Hjalmarsson offering support.
The Canadiens, despite outshooting the Avalanche, generally failed to generate much in terms of quality scoring chances. Three more power-play opportunities after their initial marker yielded zero shots on goal. Given this, the Avalanche comeback was somewhat inevitable. Nonetheless, these are all fixable issues, especially against a Coyotes team that has nonen of Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon, and Gabriel Landeskog. The Habs will look for a strong effort in order to set themselves up for a good finish to the pre-holiday schedule.