How to watch
Remember last season when the Canadiens flew out of the gate and stood as the top offensive team in the NHL? They had at least three goals in nine of their first 10 games, averaging 4.40 per contest almost a full month into the shortened campaign. Tyler Toffoli had nine goals. Josh Anderson had six. Jeff Petry, Brendan Gallagher, and Nick Suzuki all had three or more.
Now through three games, none of those players have scored. The meagre offence the Canadiens have managed has come from Chris Wideman, and Jonathan Drouin with two. It’s not that the players are getting robbed of great opportunities either; they rank 25th in the league in scoring chances per 60 minutes.
They do sit in the middle of the pack for shots on goal per game, which just highlights how many attempts have been coming from the perimeter. There will need to be more of an effort to get into the high-danger areas if they want to get their offensive game turned around.
Tale of the Tape
|42.5% (27th)||Scoring-chances-for %||54.8% (10th)|
|1.00 (32nd)||Goals per game||4.00 (10th)|
|3.33 (21st)||Goals against per game||3.00 (20th)|
|0.0% (28th)||PP%||40.0% (7th)|
|61.5% (25th)||PK%||100.0% (7th)|
|0-1-0||H2H Record (19-20)||1-0-0|
A major boost could be on the way for tonight’s game. Considering that the Habs exposed Alex Belzile to waivers yesterday, Mike Hoffman appears set to make his debut with the team after signing in the off-season. That acquisition was initially supposed to complement all of the scoring talent the team had in place, but now he’ll be counted on to kickstart the club instead.
He’s typically finished his campaigns in the 20-30 goal range the past seven years. He was playing on the Gallagher’s opposite flank on Monday morning, and while he’ll probably need some time to get up to game speed, his shot should be ready to go, and especially on the power play. It looks like Cédric Paquette will be the one coming out of the lineup to free up a spot.
Montreal’s opponent tonight is one the club last saw almost two years ago, on October 24, 2019. There was supposed to be a second meeting that year, one that was the talk of the NHL because it was going to be the first game played without fans in attendance as the pandemic first hit; a wild concept at the time, a stark reality when the league reconvened for the post-season months later.
Things have since returned to some semblance of normality, and this season’s game are being played in front of capacity crowds. The Bell Centre was loud for the introductions as they saw last season’s Stanley Cup Finalist return on Saturday. The decibel meter reached its peak when Drouin was announced, and then hit that level again when he scored the Habs’ only goal.
Perhaps he will add to his tally tonight to extend his team lead. Maybe it will be Hoffman who gets his first cheer playing in a Canadiens jersey. Hopefully, for the first time this season, it will be several players hitting the scoresheet, with a needed win on the board when all is said and done.