How to watch
Start time: 9:30 PM EST / 6:30 PM PST
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Canucks region: Sportsnet Pacific
In the U.S.: NBCSN
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Live
The Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks are in the midst of a three-game series, the first of several such stretches for the Habs on this season’s schedule. It’s a rare event in the NHL, and one that will bring some new wrinkles.
Last night, both teams got to show off their offensive abilities, credited with five goals apiece after 60 minutes. Montreal got an incredible contribution from Tyler Toffoli, who netted his first goal for the team in the second period, then added two more, the final one briefly putting Montreal into the lead. That wasn’t enough to get the win, as Vancouver got two goals from Brock Boeser, two more from Bo Horvat, and one from last year’s surprise playoff performer, Tyler Motte. In the end, the Habs got just a single point to show for the effort, as they fell in a four-round shootout.
Tale of the Tape
|49.4% (17th)||Corsi-for pct.||51.9% (13th)|
|4.25 (3rd)||Goals per game||2.80 (16th)|
|3.00 (19th)||Goals against per game||4.20 (28th)|
|45.5% (2nd)||PP%||14.3% (22nd)|
|75.0% (20th)||PK%||63.6% (27th)|
With the series format, the coaches get a chance to make minor tweaks to face the same opponent. Unlike typical back-to-backs that are generally home-and-away affairs, Claude Julien will once again be making his decisions as the visitor, with the disadvantages that brings.
Thanks to the various off-season moves, he won’t have to worry about planning around fatigued members of the sqaud. Unlike the Canucks who played multiple forwards over 20 minutes, the Canadiens had more distributed ice time, with Nick Suzuki topping the list at 18:21.
On defence, Julien wasn’t trusting his third pairing as much as he had in previous games, and that meant the pair of Shea Weber and Ben Chiarot could be a bit tired today, and that may be tough later in the game.
The best way to limit their work will be to take fewer penalties, forcing them to spend fewer minutes defending their own zone. It has been an issue this season, but the minors have been silly, unnecessary ones that should be easy to clean up. Unpressured delay-of-game calls and offensive-zone penalties are the biggest culprits. The Habs aren’t being forced into many hooks and holds by being outplayed, so it’s just a matter of being more focused.
As for personnel adjustments, Jake Allen should be expected to come on in place of Carey Price. He’s already played one game this week, which wasn’t part of a back-to-back, so that will surely be the decision for the second start in just under 24 hours. The loss also gives Julien justification to play one of the new guys if he wishes, bringing someone up from the taxi squad with two open roster spots. It may affect the salary-cap situation the team is controlling so tightly, but that should be of secondary concern to Julien’s lineup desires.
Perhaps it’s a first game for Michael Frolik, or maybe Corey Perry is brought in for more of a net-front presence. Maybe Joel Armia, who hasn’t been much of a factor to this point after a strong post-season showing, is the one to step out for a game to make room for a different option. Or perhaps Julien sticks with the group he’s run with from the beginning of training camp, patiently waiting for them to iron out the kinks, though shortening the leash if the parade to the penalty box continues for another day.