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After losing two in a row last week, it looked as if Montreal was about to start their first losing streak of the season when they faced their long-time rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs, on Saturday night. That is, until the final period rolled around. Just seven seconds into the third, Joel “Power-Play King” Armia got his team the lead and kept his team goal-scoring lead in check. The team built on that to come away with a 5-2 victory — their second win over the Leafs.
Don’t look now, but it seems the stench of last year’s power-play woes has finally lifted. The Canadiens are figuring out how to work the man advantage to their advantage. I think it’s ‘give the puck to Armia instead of Shea Weber.’ Or something like that. The penalty kill, however ... well, let’s just enjoy how the power play is shaping up.
Let’s also not forget the long-awaited emergence of Jonathan Drouin. The summer was good to Drouin, who, after ending the 2018-19 season with just one goal in his final 26 games, is now averaging nearly a point per game and tied for points (10) with Brendan Gallagher and Max Domi, as well as tied for second in goals (5).
Tale of the Tape
|2-0-0||H2H Record (18-19)||0-0-2|
|52.9% (5th)||Corsi-for pct.||52.4% (7th)|
|3.64 (4th)||Goals per game||3.00 (17th)|
|3.18 (17th)||Goals against per game||2.18 (2nd)|
|26.3% (5th)||PP%||22.9% (12th)|
|68.6% (30th)||PK%||78.1% (21st)|
Similar to Montreal, there is no one player carrying the Arizona Coyotes. They’re looking pretty solid all around. They are second in the league in shot-attempts-for percentage (56.0%), and so far, and it’s placed them in a playoff position despite playing fewer games than much of their competition.
On a four-game road trip, the Coyotes earned six out of a possible eight points, and in the process handed the Buffalo Sabres their first home loss this season when Nick Schmaltz netted the shootout winner on Monday night. Let’s hope the Canadiens back end is on its game tonight — the defencemen are going to have their work cut out for them.
Not only is Arizona second in possession, they’ve surrendered the second-fewest goals of in the NHL, with 2.18 against per game, just behind the Boston Bruins. So it looks like the forwards are going to have to bring it too. Let’s just go with ‘full team effort’ to be on the safe side.
One would think that the Canadiens should have the upper hand to start this mini west coast trip in the win column. They had three days to rest up, and last season Arizona didn’t stand a chance against the Canadiens either time they met on the ice. However, the Coyotes have been exceeding expectations so far this year, so past experience may not be much of a factor at all.
During practice this week, Claude Julien seems to have put his blender in the cupboard and decided to keep the lines the same. After a (mostly) good performance versus the Leafs, there was really no reason to do any tinkering.
For the established top-line right-winger, Brendan Gallagher, tonight marks his 500th game. Who’s willing to bet he marks this special occasion with a goal or two?