How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: Sportsnet E/W/P, CityTV (English), TVA Sports (French)
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Live
After a series of late games for many fans of the Canadiens, a weekend matchup offers a chance to see the team at a decent hour. Of course, despite looking ahead with dread to that 11:00 PM ET start scheduled for Wednesday all season long, it was a game worth staying up for, perhaps the greatest overall performance from the team all season, with a commanding 5-1 win to match.
Thankfully the next game was a couple of hours earlier, because not many would have stuck with it otherwise. The Calgary Flames were playing for a new head coach, though it wasn’t a particularly dominant showing on their end that you might have expected. Neither team could really get any momentum going, or even string two passes together in a row, making for a rather disappointing performance all around. The hope was that the Habs could ride the wave from their win the previous night, but fatigue prevented them from getting consecutive wins yet again. The club has been racking up points by getting games to at least overtime (Thursday night’s 2-1 loss in regulation broke a six-game point streak) but several weeks have passes since the Canadiens had back-to-back wins.
In a battle for the fourth seed in the North Division made tighter by Calgary’s win, the Canadiens can extend their edge to six points with a victory in the rematch, or it could be as low as two if they’re handed consecutive defeats.
Tale of the Tape
|56.2% (2nd)||Corsi-for pct.||50.8% (10th)|
|3.27 (8th)||Goals per game||2.67 (23rd)|
|2.62 (10th)||Goals against per game||2.96 (17th)|
|21.9% (14th)||PP%||20.4% (17th)|
|77.9% (17th)||PK%||80.2% (14th)|
There were flurries of offensive chances for Montreal in the last game, but they were few and far between. Normally slick execution in getting the puck from the defensive zone to the other team’s net was laboured, with players trying to compensate for their tired legs by staying high and looking for longer passes, and everyone was a bit off in making things happen.
Some of the issues stemmed from a defence corps that was continuously shuffled throughout the night as the coaching staff experimented with new pairings. With Ben Chiarot out what could be long-term, they need to find a new partner for Shea Weber, and several players made auditions to be his left-hand man.
Alexander Romanov was given the best chance to take over Chiarot’s role, but it was a difficult night for the rookie as he was on the ice for both goals against. Despite that, the pair was still one of the best (or least bad, anyway) possession duos, so it may be a partnership worth sticking with now that the coaches have had a chance to see how they performed together and offer some advice in today’s practice session.
As for the forwards, we may see a few more changes as Dominique Ducharme has regularly shaken up his trios. The biggest alteration shold be getting Artturi Lehkonen back in the lineup. His forechecking talents would have at least led to a bit more zone time in the last game, and now that he’s been winding up for nine days, he should hit the ice flying with a lineup spot restored.
Hopefully after a day of rest the Habs will be able to play the close-knit transition game that started to turn their season around, with fewer icings from trying to force things than we saw in the last outing. A more composed game all around is what Montreal will need to split the miniseries in Calgary to move on to the final phase of the six-game road trip still in the black.