How to watch
So, here we are. Getting ready to enter game number 30 of the 2021-22 season (aka, The Season from Hell). After Saturday night’s matchup against the St. Louis Blues, the Canadiens are now riding a pretty impressive six-game losing streak and were the first team to hit the 20-games-lost mark.
Many thought that going up against a team as riddled with injuries as the Canadiens would have been anyone’s game. But it was the Blues’ game the whole way. Alexander Romanov was the only Hab to find the back of the net in the 4-1 loss. Perhaps Jake Allen took it a little too easy on his former team but on the other side of the ice, Charlie Lindgren did not. Instead, he took home his third straight win with his new club.
Tonight Montreal prepares to take on Sidney Crosby and the gang. The last time these two teams faced off was on November 27 and it was Montreal who came out on top with a 6-3 victory. That sounds promising, you may be saying to yourself. Maybe, but let me remind you that was way back when Josh Anderson, Christian Dvorak, Tyler Toffoli, Sami Niku, and Mattias Norlinder were in the lineup — all of whom contributed to the win. Also on the missing list are Brendan Gallagher, Jeff Petry, and possibly Jake Evans (day-to-day). While these three didn’t add to the tally the last time, it sure would be nice to have them around tonight.
Tale of the Tape
|48.2% (24th)||Scoring-chances-for %||52.3% (8th)|
|2.14 (31st)||Goals per game||2.93 (16th)|
|3.52 (28th)||Goals against per game||2.44 (3rd)|
|13.1% (30th)||PP%||14.9% (28th)|
|70.5% (30th)||PK%||92.4% (1st)|
|1-1-0||H2H Record (19-20)||1-1-0|
The Penguins are also short a few players: Jake Guentzel, Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust. Not exactly on even par here, but those are still some major names. Riding a streak the complete opposite of Montreal’s, the Pens barely squeaked a win out on Saturday night against the Anaheim Ducks after Brock McGinn was the only player on both sides to light the lamp. Nonetheless, a win is a win and that was win number four in a row for Pittsburgh.
So, what’s the strategy going to be against the team that currently sits fourth in the Metropolitan Division? Drawing a penalty isn’t really going to work in the Canadiens favour for two reasons: they have a terrible power play (hence being 30th in the league) and while the Penguins don’t really have bragging rights in that area either, their penalty kill is now recording-breaking. After nailing the penalty kill twice against the Ducks, Pittsburgh made history with it being their 13th consecutive game without allowing a power-play goal — the longest streak in team history.
And did I mention they have the third-lowest goals-against average in the NHL? Their defence and goaltending are pretty rock solid. Given the Habs struggle to notch more than one or two goals per game, this could be quite the challenge.
We could take whatever smidge of comfort we have left in the fact that Allen — who was in this predicament not that long ago with his former team, the St. Louis Blues — tries to convince his current teammates to not travel down the dark road of simply accepting losses.
“I think you get to that point, that’s a really dangerous avenue to go down. Losses are going to happen, it doesn’t matter how good your hockey team is. But it depends on how you lose. How you play the game, how you respect the game. If you lose, you lose. But you know you went down swinging. Obviously, it’s tough right now, there’s been a lot of losing lately. We need to win here to change the culture a little bit and get some steam going.”
If you recall, Allen was part of the Blues during their unbelievable run from dead last in the league at the start of January 2019 to hoisting the 2018-19 Stanley Cup just a few months later. Perhaps, the Habs should listen to any words of wisdom he may have to offer.