How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Panthers region: Fox Sports Florida
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/Rogers NHL Live
The Canadiens headed into their holiday break on a two-game winning streak, beating the Arizona Coyotes in a close 2-1 contest before pulling off an incredible comeback to steal the victory from the Vegas Golden Knights in a 4-3 overtime win. Tonight, they kick off the second half of their six-game road trip before heading back home after their last match-up on New Year’s Eve. Let’s hope their streak continues and they wrap up 2018 on a winning note.
After a four-day break, they were back on the ice for practice Thursday morning, but two vital pieces of the puzzle was missing. Brendan Gallagher didn’t join the practice due to flu-like symptoms. Hopefully, the speedy forward rests up so he can suit up for tonight’s match against the Panthers. The other piece... I don’t even want to type this.. is Carey Price, who will not be joining the team in Florida. Price left the ice early during practice, and shortly after it was announced that he will be out with a lower-body injury. As if that isn’t bad enough, Charlie Lindgren is still out nursing his own lower-body injury so looks like Antti Niemi will be backed up by first time NHLer, Michael McNiven.
On the flip side, we will possibly see two familiar faces back in the lineup tonight. Karl Alzner has been called up from the Laval Rocket after David Schlemko was placed on Injured Reserve due to an upper-body injury he suffered against the Coyotes on December 20, and Joel Armia was also at practice for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury on November 5.
Tale of the Tape
|1-3-0||H2H Record (17-18)||3-1-0|
|54.5% (3rd)||Corsi-for pct.||50.6% (10th)|
|3.05 (12th)||Goals per game||3.26 (9th)|
|3.16 (23rd)||Goals against per game||3.49 (27th)|
|12.7% (31st)||PP%||28.2% (3rd)|
|77.5% (24th)||PK%||77.8% (23rd)|
The Panthers had a slow start to the season but seem to be finding their groove as of late. Like the Canadiens, they have multiple contributors this season with four players close to having point-per-game tallies. Let’s hope the festive season has slowed down the likes of point-leader, Jonathan Huberdeau, who has well over a point-per-game record with 42 points (9G, 33A) in 35 games, and Mike Hoffman and Aleksander Barkov who are leading the team in goals with 17 a piece.
This is the first time these two teams will meet this season. Both teams are riding a two-game winning streak and are gearing up for back-to-back games this weekend. They’re not far apart in the standings with Montreal currently sitting in fifth place with 43 points and Florida trailing by seven for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference with two games in hand.
With both teams being similar in team point contributions and standings, everyone is going to have to focus and battle hard to grab that first win back from a brief holiday. It’s simply going to be a case of who wants it more.