How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM PDT
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Maple Leafs region: TSN4
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Live
After a couple of days of deals, the actual hockey gets back under way this evening. The Montreal Canadiens added a defenceman, Jon Merrill, to (probably) play with Alexander Romanov and then lost Victor Mete to Ottawa earlier today, while the Toronto Maple Leafs made a couple of big moves on Sunday to land Nick Foligno from Columbus and David Rittich from Calgary to join Jack Campbell, which has raised some questions about Frederik Andersen’s future with the team.
None of these players will be in the lineup tonight, however, or in the next week as everyone needs to quarantine first. The lineups will feature more familiar faces when the two clubs meet this evening for the sixth of 10 times this season.
Tale of the Tape
|55.6% (2nd)||Corsi-for pct.||50.5% (13th)|
|3.08 (12th)||Goals per game||3.37 (5th)|
|2.76 (13th)||Goals against per game||2.56 (7th)|
|20.0% (17th)||PP%||23.3% (10th)|
|76.4% (24th)||PK%||78.0% (20th)|
One face on Toronto’s roster is more familiar than most as Alex Galchenyuk has been playing in their top six, and looking quite good in the offensive role, with one goal and five assists in 11 games. Given that Josh Anderson has 14 goals and 20 points for the Habs, and is often one of their better players, it’s a little easier to cheer for Galchenyuk’s success when the player he helped bring in (in a roundabout way through Max Domi trades) looks like a key piece of the team, and has been noticeable in nearly every game he’s played.
He could be even more a factor tonight because Dominique Ducharme has shaken up the lines again, and he gets to play alongside Jesperi Kotkaniemi. After a hot start on Nick Suzuki’s wing, it’s been the combo we’ll see tonight that has been the most effective in recent weeks when they take the ice together. The big-bodied forwards read well off each other, and look dangerous when they get into the offensive zone during this recent cold spell.
Other than Jake Evans, that is. When the team announced the acquisition of Eric Staal, Evans took his game a new level, forcing himself back into the lineup after a recent scratch, and has run with the opportunity. His play hasn’t gone unnoticed by the coaching staff, and tonight he gets his shot on a line with Suzuki and Tyler Toffoli. While Suzuki may be listed as the centre, Evans will likely take many of the draws, and probably take the most defensive positioning in the game.
The moves have all been made in an effort to jumpstart the offence while also covering any defensive deficiencies. Montreal hasn’t scored three goals since an overtime win versus Edmonton a week ago, while the goals allowed have been steadily creeping up over a series of starts for Jake Allen.
The Canadiens can do a lot more to keep their goaltender from getting overwhelmed, and the plan will have to be a lot different tonight from what the Habs did in Wednesday’s meeting. The Leafs played nearly two full periods in the slot of Montreal’s end, and Allen did everything he could to try to earn the team a point. The defensive-zone coverage needs to be a lot more disciplined, with less panicked decision-making to snap the losing streak.