How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Capitals region: NBC Sports Washington
Streaming: NHL.tv/NHL Live
The last time the Canadiens hit the ice was on January 18. Heading into their bye week, they finally started racking up some points, winning four out of their last five games before taking the week off. Let’s hope that they’re able to keep the pace going when they face the Metropolitan Division’s top team tonight.
Even though the team took off to sunny destinations for some vitamin D, their captain didn’t take much time off. Shea Weber headed to the NHL All-Star weekend and was, once again, crowned the champion of the Hardest Shot competition with a 106.5 miles-per-hour blast. He also tallied a goal and two assists during the All-Star game on Saturday night, helping Team Atlantic get to the final. Perhaps Weber can bring back some of that back to Montreal to get back to business. He’s currently fourth on the team in points with 33, and has been both an offensive and defensive force so far this season.
Speculation is flying that Tomas Tatar could be on the trade block, but he’s currently leading the team with 17 goals and 43 points. Second and third in goals are Brendan Gallagher (15), who is currently day-to-day, and Joel Armia (13), who just returned before the bye week from his injury. So, maybe we can keep Tatar a while longer? Pretty please?
Taking a chance on Ilya Kovalchuk has worked out for Marc Bergevin and the Habs so far. During his short stint with the team, he seems to have found a good groove, racking up eight points (4G, 4A) in eight games. He’s also provided a much-needed jolt of energy since their usual sparkplug is still out of commission.
Tale of the Tape
|53.7% (2nd)||Corsi-for pct.||51.9% (8th)|
|3.04 (16th)||Goals per game||3.55 (5th)|
|3.12 (11th)||Goals against per game||2.90 (21st)|
|20.6% (12th)||PP%||20.3% (14th)|
|78.9% (21st)||PK%||84.2% (2nd)|
Washington is leading the Metro with 71 points and are rocking quite a tight team this season. It doesn’t hurt that they’ve managed to avoid the injury bug, either. As usual, they should have no issues making it to the post-season and are still among the favourites to take home the Stanley Cup two years after winning it for the first time.
Also as per usual, the Capitals’ captain decided not to attend this year’s All-Star Weekend, choosing to rest instead. Our captain made it. Just sayin’. That will end up being a plus for the Canadiens though, since Alex Ovechkin faces a one-game suspension for missing the event, and that suspension is for tonight’s game.
Even though the Capitals will be short the 34-goal man, the Canadiens will still need to try to shut down Nicklas Backstrom and another big part of the Capitals’ offence, Jakub Vrana, who’s riding an eight-game point streak (7G, 2A).
The Capitals are averaging 3.6 goals on 32.0 shots per game. Carey Price, and pretty much every backup he’s had this season, is having trouble keeping the goals under three, so this could be a challenge. John Carlson is leading league defencemen with 60 points (13G, 47A) and averages 1.22 points per game. Maybe he’ll be too focused on trying to score rather than defend. That would work in our favour.
After an eight-game winless streak, the Canadiens finally started to find their footing again and are still trying to claw their way into a wild-card spot. With 51 points, they’re sitting 10 behind the Florida Panthers in the Atlantic Division and also 10 points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the second wild-card spot. Can it be done? Sure. Anything’s possible. Just ask the St. Louis Blues.
This is the second time these two teams have met this season. On November 15, the Canadiens were the ones to come out on top with a beautiful 5-2 victory. However, that was the game that took Jonathan Drouin away from us with a wrist injury and Paul Byron with a knee injury. It would be pretty sweet to duplicate that again tonight (the win, not the injuries).