clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Canadiens @ Panthers: Game preview, start time, Tale of the Tape, and how to watch

After dropping one game to an Atlantic rival, the Habs can’t afford a second in two nights.

Montreal Canadiens v Florida Panthers

Montreal Canadiens @ Florida Panthers

How to watch

Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: Sportsnet, Sportsnet Now (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the Canadiens regions: RDS, RDS Direct
In the Panthers region: Fox Sports Florida
Streaming: NHL.tv/NHL Live

Playing a fairly strong defensive game is how the Montreal Canadiens were able to come out of their November slide and begin climbing the rankings again in December. Over the past month, most of their opponents have been held to two goals or fewer, and the result was a 7-4 record heading into Saturday’s game.

As has happened at various points this season, the switch for that defensive play seemed to be toggled to the ‘off’ position at the tail end of the first period versus the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Habs were unable to flip it back on for the remainder of the game. They watched as a 2-0 lead became a 4-2 deficit, undoing an incredible start that had them outshooting their division rival 17-0 in the first half of the opening period.

It was an especially tough game for the pairing of Jeff Petry and Brett Kulak, the only two defencemen below a 55% Corsi-for percentage on the night, and a duo on the ice for three five-on-five goals against. The newly formed line of Artturi Lehkonen, Max Domi, and Nick Suzuki also had serious trouble in their assignments, on the ice for a heap of Lightning scoring chances, four of which resulted in goals.

The outcome moved Tampa Bay into a tie with Montreal in points rather than extending the Canadiens’ advantage to four, and that’s significant in an Atlantic race that may only see three of the division’s teams make the post-season.

The Habs need to play a more disciplined defensive game if they’re going to have a four-point swing go in their favour this evening and jump over top of their opponent, the Florida Panthers, in what is becoming a nightly game of leapfrog in the Eastern Conference.

Tale of the Tape

Canadiens Statistic Panthers
Canadiens Statistic Panthers
18-14-6 Record 19-13-5
3-1-0 H2H Record 1-3-0
54.2% (2nd) Corsi-for pct. 49.6% (17th)
3.24 (11th) Goals per game 3.49 (5th)
3.18 (21st) Goals against per game 3.30 (27th)
23.2% (9th) PP% 24.3% (5th)
75.4% (27th) PK% 79.7% (20th)
W-W-L-W-L Form W-W-W-L-W

Montreal controlled what was a surprisingly physical season series in 2018-19, winning three of the four games versus the Panthers. They took advantage of one of the worst defensive teams in the league to score 19 goals, netting at least five in each of their wins.

The Panthers took a major step to rectify their goaltending situation in the off-season. Sergei Bobrovsky signed on with the team for seven years, inking one of the most expensive deals in NHL history and ranking right behind Carey Price in average annual value for a goaltender, at $10 million.

That move hasn’t solved the team’s issues. They finished last season allowing 3.33 goals per game, and through 37 games this year that number is at 3.30. Bobrovsky has a sub-.900 save percentage, and only 13 wins on the year.

Those goals against are what is limiting Florida this year. They’re one of the NHL’s best teams at the opposite end of the ice, scoring about three-and-a-half goals per game. Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov have become bona fide superstars in the last few seasons, on pace for well over point-per-game campaigns once again. Their playmaking skills are setting up a few finishers on the roster, giving Florida six double-digit goal-scorers before reaching the midpoint of the season.

Montreal is no slouch when it comes to finding the net either, but one of their six 10-goal-scorers, Joel Armia, is out of action. Jesperi Kotkaniemi helped make up for the loss of his fellow Finn with a goal in last night’s game, and was perhaps the team’s best player in the loss. The Habs will hope the sophomore can continue that production now that he’s received a clean bill of health.

As we saw on Saturday, we could be in for another high-scoring affair this evening. The defensive advantage goes to the Canadiens, especially over dozen games before the Christmas break. It all depends on whether they decide to shut down the middle of the ice as they have for most of December, or leave the slot open for business.

Montreal Canadiens projected lineup

Forwards

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Tomas Tatar Phillip Danault Brendan Gallagher
Artturi Lehkonen Max Domi Nick Suzuki
Nick Cousins Jesperi Kotkaniemi Jordan Weal
Ryan Poehling Nate Thompson Riley Barber

Defencemen

Left Defence Right Defence
Left Defence Right Defence
Ben Chiarot Shea Weber
Victor Mete Jeff Petry
Brett Kulak Cale Fleury

Goaltenders

Goaltenders
Goaltenders
Carey Price
Charlie Lindgren

Florida Panthers projected lineup

Forwards

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Jonathan Huberdeau Aleksander Barkov Evgenii Dadonov
Brett Connolly Vincent Trocheck Noel Acciari
Frank Vatrano Brian Boyle Mike Hoffman
Colton Sceviour Dominic Toninato Denis Malgin

Defencemen

Left Defence Right Defence
Left Defence Right Defence
Keith Yandle Mark Pysyk
Anton Stralman Riley Stillman
Michael Matheson Josh Brown

Goaltenders

Goaltenders
Goaltenders
Sergei Bobrovsky
Chris Driedger