How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Blue Jackets region: FOX Sports Ohio
Streaming: NHL.tv / NHL Live
It was hardly the prettiest thing, but on Saturday night, the Montreal Canadiens sprinted out to a three goal lead and hung on for a tight but mostly comfortable 3-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings. With that win, the Canadiens sit third in the Atlantic Division, one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs with two games in hand. However, with only four points separating the Leafs from the sixth place Tampa Bay Lightning, the Habs know that there is no time to rest on their laurels as the Columbus Blue Jackets arrive in Montreal.
Tale of the Tape
|2-1-0||H2H Record (18-19)||1-2-0|
|51.9% (8th)||Corsi-for pct.||49.7% (18th)|
|3.53 (5th)||Goals per game||2.35 (30th)|
|3.12 (20th)||Goals against per game||3.41 (24th)|
|21.4% (12th)||PP%||14.3% (25th)|
|72.2% (29th)||PK%||76.5% (25th)|
The offseason was not kind to a Columbus team that managed to win its first ever playoff series last season. A slew of high profile free agents—Sergei Bobrovsky, Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel—all departed for greener pastures despite the best efforts of Jarmo Kekalainen. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Blue Jackets team that remains in their wake is struggling to replicate the successes of their previous campaign.
After a six game point streak (four wins, two overtime losses) in the middle of October, the Jackets come to Montreal having won only a single time in their last seven games. The loss of star power up front has dramatically blunted a Columbus offence that is last in the league for scoring. Pierre-Luc Dubois and new acquisition Gustav Nyquist lead the team in scoring with 11 points a piece, but are also the only players with double-digit point totals on the team. In goal, Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins have struggled to fill Bobrovsky’s shoes. Korpisalo, the starter, comes into Tuesday night’s game with an .895 save percentage while Merzlikins is posting an .882 in the four games where he’s seen action.
On Saturday night, Claude Julien mixed up his lines in an effort to light a spark under a team that he dubbed “ordinary”. In the absence of a standout performance, it’s unclear if Julien will keep his new alignments, return to the blender, or restore his old combinations. One thing that has been declared is that Jesperi Kotkaniemi will not suit up, as the sophomore remains day-to-day with a groin issue. On the other side, the Blue Jackets will be without captain Nick Foligno, who has been suspended for three games for an elbow to the head of Colorado Avalanche Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
Once again, based on the relative strength of the two teams, the Canadiens face a game that they should win—and perhaps need to win in order to keep pace in a very competitive Atlantic Division. Thing is, the Blue Jackets, as a John Tortorella coached team, will always come ready to work, and the Habs will need to respond in kind.