How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM PDT
In Canada: Sportsnet (English)
the Canadiens region: RDS (French)
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Live
Throughout even the rough patch at the start of the year that got Claude Julien fired, the Canadiens were managing to pick up at least a point in many of their games. That was enough to keep them elevated above the struggling teams in the temporary alignment of the North Division. Their most concerning run of games this season was a three-game stretch of poor defensive showings that didn’t even earn a loser point, making the feeling leading up to the trade deadline a bit more nervous than it should have been.
With the core of the team (minus a few injured players) still intact after the deadline, the Canadiens needed a much better performance versus the hottest goaltender in the NHL, and they put together an exceptional first period to get out to a 2-0 lead over Jack Campbell and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Their mettle was tested when they blew that lead in the middle frame, but they quickly reeled things in, didn’t get discouraged by a handful of missed chances, and ended up with a comfortable victory to kick off the final third of the season.
The turn of fortunes comes at an important time for Montreal, as they’re now set to welcome the Calgary Flames to the Bell Centre, the team sitting directly below them in the North Division standings. There’s a chance to gain significant breathing room by the time the weekend arrives.
Tale of the Tape
|55.2% (2nd)||Corsi-for pct.||52.1% (8th)|
|3.05 (12th)||Goals per game||2.65 (21st)|
|2.78 (13th)||Goals against per game||2.93 (18th)|
|20.2% (16th)||PP%||20.3% (15th)|
|76.9% (23rd)||PK%||80.9% (11th)|
The Leafs have been in a giving mood the last few days, and have also granted the Flames a two-point boost with an overtime decision last night. Goals from defenceman Juuso Valimaki and Elias Lindholm, and a lackadaisical four-minute power play from the Leafs in the third period, were enough to get the Flames one point, and a nice move from Johnny Gaudreau at three-on-three earned his team the second.
Calgary has now won consecutive games, going back to Saturday’s 5-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers. That streak will have to grow to a lot more if the Flames want to reinsert themselves in the playoff conversation, and this series with Montreal holds the two most critical games of their entire season.
The Flames won. They have 14 left.— Brian Wilde (@BWildeMTL) April 14, 2021
For Calgary to catch the Habs if Montreal plays 500, the Flames must finish 11-2-1.
The chances of the Flames going on the necessary run are extremely low, and they would drop even further with as much as a series split this week. They plummet to essentially zero if the Habs can put forth the same type of effort from Monday’s game and sweep both contests.
That starts with the defence, and after some experimentation it looks like the Canadiens have settled into an effectve alignment on the blue line. Joel Edmundson and Jeff Petry were reunited to play major minutes on Monday in a shutdown role, while Brett Kulak looked good with Shea Weber in their first night together. And it doesn’t seem to matter who plays with Alexander Romanov right now, since the rookie has been a standout presence whether he’s paired with now-Ottawa Senator Victor Mete, AHL call-up Otto Leskinen, or veteran depth option Xavier Ouellet. It won’t be long until (we assume) that partner is the newly acquired Jon Merrill, but Romanov will keep the fans of the opposing team up in arms with his physically dominant play regardless.
Then it’s simply a matter of getting enough offence for the win, which had been an issue in Jake Allen’s starts until the last game. On Monday, they matched their entire production in the first three games since Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher were sidelined by injury. Tomas Tatar leads the team with three points in the four-game span of Allen’s forced promotion, and Montreal will need more of that from him and rest of the forwards on the team to douse the Flames’ playoff aspirations.