How to watch
We hoped that the Canadiens could find the same level of effort they’d shown versus teams clearly superior to them this season when they hit the road to play the Boston Bruins last niht. However, after a few decent shifts to start the game, the edge shifted completely to the home team, and they maintained momentum for the remainder of the game, coming away with an easy 5-1 win.
There weren’t many performances to remember from the Habs’ side save that from Michael Pezzetta, who didn’t seem to develop any rust on the 10-day pause. It’s fitting that he was the one to score the only goal for the team as he was the most involved is all aspects of the play, and every member of the Bruins bench knew his name by the end of the night. You can’t make a much better impression than that when trying to make a statement of your value as an NHL player, especially when the general level of the team is nowhere near his default amount.
With that lack of form, the Canadiens dropped a fourth consecutive game on their schedule of fits of starts, with only one victory in the past 11 games, a span that goes back to November.
As a result, the Canadiens dropped to 32nd in the league by points percentage (with a big helping hand from Arizona Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka stealing a win from Toronto), now in the top-odds position for the first overall draft pick. Tonight the Habs are taking on the Chicago Blackhawks, another team in the running for that position.
Tale of the Tape
|46.3% (26th)||Scoring-chances-for %||45.8% (28th)|
|2.09 (32nd)||Goals per game||2.33 (29th)|
|3.66 (29th)||Goals against per game||3.36 (25th)|
|10.5% (32nd)||PP%||18.1% (21st)|
|72.8% (28th)||PK%||75.2% (27th)|
The Blackhawks have won two games in a row, which isn’t helping those odds. In fact, since a season-opening 1-9-2 record that got head coach Jeremy Colliton fired, the Blackhawks have been doing decently well. Dating back to November 7 when Derek King took over, the team has gone 12-9-3; a .563 points percentage that would have them vying for a wild-card spot if that were their season mark.
One of those wins came at the Bell Centre on December 9, in yet another game featuring offensive struggles for the Habs. They were shut out by Marc-Andre Fleury, which resulted in a long ovation at the end of the night from a crowd eager for something to cheer about.
Alex DeBrincat was held off the scoresheet that night, which was a bit of a feat for Montreal as few teams have been able to manage that this year. The 24-year-old winger is firmly in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy, three off Leon Draisaitl’s league lead of 26 goals.
DeBrincat has five multi-goal games this season, and two of those have come in his last four matches. Nine goals of his season total have come on the power play (as well as half of his assists). It’s not even a particularly good man advantage his team possesses, ranking 21st with an 18.1% efficiency, but he and Patrick Kane have found their own success in that situation.
The Canadiens’ test will therefore be to limit their production, preferably by giving them few opportunities to score while up a man. Montreal has been doing a better in that situation recently, rising up to 28th in the league on the penalty kill, but a lack of discipline is still an issue as they spend the sixth-most minutes in the box per game. If the Habs want to at least make this a closer game than last night’s that featured plenty of physicality but little offence from their side, they’ll need to keep the game at five-on-five.