How to watch
As expected, the Montreal Canadiens didn’t look nearly as good on Thursday night as they had on Tuesday versus the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s just not the same going from a division rival — Stanley Cup Final opponent, even — to a team they rarely play and that sits in a similar position this season to Montreal. Well outside of playoff spots, it was in neither team’s best interest to win the game, and it showed for much of the contest.
Despite that being the case for Montreal, they may have taken the assignment a bit further than they needed to. Though they do have among the lowest offensive output this season, they’ve at least been able to put one goal in on the majority of nights, having been shut out on just two occasions prior to Thursday’s 2-0 loss. At least at the end of the last game, the fans at the Bell Centre chose their own positive to take from the night out, giving Marc-Andre Fleury a hearty cheer for his 500th win.
The good news is the Canadiens will play a much more proficient offence tonight, so they shouldn’t need to be overly concerned about scoring a goal or two. However, Jake Allen will be facing his former team for the first time tonight, and he’ll be eager to make it back-to-back games with the visiting goaltender being the story.
Tale of the Tape
|47.6% (27th)||Scoring-chances-for %||49.4% (18th)|
|2.18 (29th)||Goals per game||3.38 (7th)|
|3.50 (28th)||Goals against per game||2.81 (16th)|
|13.3% (30th)||PP%||28.4% (3rd)|
|71.8% (30th)||PK%||82.2% (11th)|
|2-0-0||H2H Record (19-20)||0-2-0|
He may not have the clout or the resume of Fleury, but Allen is sure to get his own ovation from the fans of the St. Louis Blues for his seven years of service, which included a Cup win. The team had seen Jordan Binnington take over in the crease by the time the post-season arrived, and that shift in responsibilities for Allen proved to be to Montreal’s benefit when he became available just before the free-agency period in 2020.
As in any good story, this one could have a plot twist. Charlie Lindgren was the goaltender in line to take over Price’s backup spot before Allen was acquired, but was then relegated to the number-three role before leaving the organization last year. Now, after a great start in the AHL with the Springfield Thunderbirds, he’s been recalled to the Blues with Jordan Binnington in COVID protocol, thrust into the starter’s role when Ville Husso was injured late in a tie game on Tuesday, and has been credited with the win in both games he’s played for the Blues so far. He will be looking to do the same thing Allen is trying to achieve versus his former teammates. The odds will have to be in Lindgren’s favour if he gets start and the lower degree of difficulty that comes with facing Montreal’s B team.
For some context in the difference between the two clubs, There are six members of the Blues who have reached or surpassed Nick Suzuki’s team-leading 18 points. At the top of the list is not Vladimir Tarasenko or Ryan O’Reilly, but fourth-year forward Jordan Kyrou, who has 25 points in 26 games and a spot on the Blues’ top line.
Like Montreal, St. Louis has some significant roster absences. Binnington is joined on the COVID list by Justin Faulk, and also out of the lineup are Tyle Bozak, David Perron, and second-leading-scorer Robert Thomas. In their absences, a left-wing duo of Brandon Saad and Pavel Buchnevich sits one-two in goals, while Colton Parayko and Torey Krug are helping to set up the forwards from the back end. With the various roster issues the Blues have faced, they’ve had to use 27 skaters so far, and every one them has hit the scoresheet in 2021-22.
The Blues have put together some great depth throughout the organization, and right now that’s keeping them fairly comfortable in the playoff race. Rather than just looking to survive, they’ll be confident that tonight’s game will end in another win and a leap to second place in the division.