How to watch
Start time: 7:30 PM EST / 4:30 PM PST
In Canada: Sportsnet One (English)
In the Canadiens region: RDS (French)
In the Coyotes region: Fox Sports-Arizona
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/Rogers NHL Live
For the better part of 30 minutes on Saturday night, it looked like the Montreal Canadiens were well positioned to secure their fifth consecutive victory. However, missed chances and accumulated fatigue from having two back-to-backs in the same week gradually allowed the Philadelphia Flyers back into the game. The Habs made a game effort in the second half of the game, but defensive lapses and Flyer opportunism allowed the visitors to escape with a 5-2 victory on the night.
Fatigue won’t be an issue on Wednesday night — nor will it be a plausible excuse — as the Canadiens play their first game in four days, hosting the visiting Arizona Coyotes in their final game prior to the All-Star break and subsequent bye week. Instead, it’s their opponents who head into Montreal having played the previous night, defeating the Senators 3-2 in Ottawa.
Tale of the Tape
|53.8% (4th)||Corsi-for pct.||49.5% (17th)|
|3.00 (15th)||Goals per game||2.63 (28th)|
|2.96 (14th)||Goals against per game||2.84 (9th)|
|12.6% (31st)||PP%||17.9% (19th)|
|79.8% (17th)||PK%||87.2% (1st)|
The Coyotes have improved considerably since these teams last met (a 2-1 Canadiens victory). When the Habs arrived in Glendale on December 20, 2018, the Coyotes had a record of 14-17-2 — a point percentage of .455. Tonight, those same Coyotes arrive at the Bell Centre with a record of 23-22-4 — a point percentage of .510.
That having been said, this streak of six wins in their last 10 games (including impressive defeats of the San Jose Sharks and Toronto Maple Leafs) has been largely fueled by the stellar goaltending of Darcy Kuemper, who is 6-0-2 with a save percentage of .924 during this stretch. The Coyotes have needed him to, having not exceeded 50% of the shot-attempt share in any match save one during their run of good form.
The Habs may dodge a bullet though, as Kuemper just finished a 25-save victory in Ottawa last night, meaning that the Coyotes may start backup Calvin Pickard, who would be making his first start with the Arizona franchise. Pickard, who started the season as part of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, amassed a .863 save percentage and 4.01 GAA in 11 games with the Philadelphia Flyers prior to claimed on waivers by the Coyotes. Still, even if Pickard gets the nod, Canadiens fans are no stranger to watching a backup netminder come into the Bell Centre and steal two points for his club.
Up front, the Coyotes rely heavily on the duo of Derek Stepan and Clayton Keller. But head coach Rick Tocchet’s attempts to find a third player to complete the line has been hampered by injury (Nick Schmaltz) or poor play (Alex Galchenyuk). Instead, Tocchet has opted to split the two in recent matches, placing Stepan between Richard Panik and Vinnie Hinostroza, while Keller skates to the left of Nick Cousins and Christian Fischer. So far, the new lines appear to be working, with Hinostraza tallying twice and Stepan once against the Senators.
Just like the Flyers matchup, this final game before an extended break against a team playing better than both their talent and record would indicate is a perfect trap for an overachieving team like the Canadiens. But the Habs need to be cautious. A two game losing streak may not appear so bad, but it could easily balloon to four or five when the effects of the bye-week hangover are factored in.