A two-game series with the New York Islanders has boosted the confidence of the Montreal Canadiens, putting up nine goals on a team that is freefalling from post-season contention. What was a sequence of taking points from a few games in which they were mostly coming out on the losing end, with just one victory in the previous nine contests, can now be said to be a six-game points streak for the Habs.
To keep it going they will need to at least be tied with the Boston Bruins after 60 minutes of play in today’s game, and that’s something they’ve only managed to achieve in one of their three previous meetings this season.
It will be a team relying more on young players than what the Canadiens have iced in the first three games versus the second seed in the Atlantic Division. Tomas Plekanec is no longer around to help deal with what is one of the top offensive teams in the NHL, with that burden now falling onto Phillip Danault, linemates Max Pacioretty and Artturi Lehkonen, and a group of inexperienced defencemen.
Patrice Bergeron’s absence will help on that front, but the Canadiens will still have to contend with Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and a resurgent David Krejci, who posted three goals in a wild game versus the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday.
How to watch
Puck drop: 5:00 PM EST / 2:00 PM PST
In Canada: Sportsnet (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the Bruinss region: NESN
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL GameCentre Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
Alex Galchenyuk is also coming in with a hat trick under his belt from the previous game. On a night when his shot led to the opening goal of the game, Galchenyuk had four points, and played well enough to have even more. The forward is finding his game for the first time since an incredible start to the 2016-17 season was derailed by a knee injury, and complementing his style with what Brendan Gallagher brings to the ice worked as the catalyst to turn that performance into production.
The best the Canadiens have been able to do is limit the Bruins to three goals this season, and that occurring in a game they eventually lost in a shootout, so if they are to defeat a team that scored eight goals in its last game, the Habs will need a repeat performance from Galchenyuk and company.
The defence will be in tough to stop the attack. Noah Juulsen was able to perform well in his first real test against the Tampa Bay Lightning in his second NHL game, and gets another today in Boston. The rookie has fared well so far, playing at least 20 minutes in three of his five games, and adding his first NHL goal last night.
Joining him on the blue line may be Rinat Valiev, who was called up from the Laval Rocket with news that Victor Mete sustained a hand injury while playing the Islanders on Friday night. Valiev has 10 games of NHL experience, all with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2016-17 season, and would have to hit the ground running against one of the top teams in the NHL. For that reason, the team may decide to have him simply watch the game from the press box, and wait until Tuesday’s game versus the New Jersey Devils to get him in his first game.
Already having committed to starting Antti Niemi in today’s game, Valiev’s status will be a decision to make for Claude Julien as he seeks a better outcome in his second game back at TD Garden than the dismal performance his team produced in the first.