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Canadiens @ Coyotes: Game preview, start time, Tale of the Tape, and how to watch

It’s a bizarro matinée in the NHL, where the loser is the real winner.

Montreal Canadiens v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

Montreal Canadiens @ Arizona Coyotes

How to watch

Start time: **4:00 PM EST / 1:00 PM PST**
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the United States: HULU
Streaming: ESPN+, NHL Live, RDS Direct, TSN Direct

It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States, and there is a slate of NHL games set to be played throughout the day. The Montreal Canadiens are the only Canadian team on the docket, and participating in one of the matches with an afternoon start.

While every other game features at least one club trying to improve its playoff positioning, the game between the Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes will have fan attention focused on the upcoming draft — specifically the chance to pick expected first overall selection Shane Wright. The Habs and Coyotes are last and second-last, respectively, in the NHL standings, separated by just a single point.

Both teams have played 36 games so far, and the Coyotes’ eight wins are one better than Montreal’s seven, though Arizona has one less regulation win (all things that could come into play in a tiebreak scenario at the end of the year). With the lottery format, there’s no guarantee the 32nd-ranked club takes first overall — it’s about three times more likely that that doesn’t happen — but it does result in the best odds at 25.7%, and a guranteed top-three spot.

Tale of the Tape

Canadiens Statistics Coyotes
Canadiens Statistics Coyotes
7-24-5 Record 8-24-4
46.4% (24th) Scoring-chances-for % 45.6% (28th)
2.08 (32nd) Goals per game 2.14 (31st)
3.64 (30th) Goals against per game 3.72 (32nd)
11.0% (32nd) PP% 13.5% (31st)
72.9% (30th) PK% 73.6% (28th)
1-1-0 H2H Record (19-20) 1-1-0

Karel Vejmelka has more important things on his mind than the organization’s placement at the conclusion of the season. The Coyotes’ 25-year-old goaltender has played 19 games this season, but really thrust himself into the spotlight over the last weeek with first a 45-save win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, then was is net as the Coyotes took a point from the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. Those are two of just five games in which he’s been a part of claiming a point this year.

Outside of Vejmelka, the most talk regarding the Coyotes organization centres on defenceman Jakob Chychrun, who seems destined to move ahead of the trade deadline. He has a contract that pays him $4.6 million for the next three seasons, and Arizona prefers its largest financial commitments be to players unable to play for the team. They will be looking for a haul of prospects and picks for their top blue-liner.

Pro scouts will have plenty of players to keep their eyes on in this one because the majority of the Coyotes’ roster consists of players on expiring deals, including the likes of Phil Kessel, Riley Nash, and Lawson Crouse and Christian Fischer who are pending restricted free agents. If a 23-year-old franchise defenceman is on the table, you have to think every other current roster player will be as well.

Those scouts won’t just be watching the Arizona players however as the Canadiens have their own crop of rentals available. Montreal’s next general manager will likely be fielding calls right away on Ben Chiarot, Artturi Lehkonen, Brett Kulak, Jake Allen, or some of the other players with little terms remaining on their contracts. It won’t be easy to evaluate players on teams that clearly aren’t operating as intended, but that’s the nature of the job for those who do such things professionally.

While that dynamic is playing out between scouts and veterans, the younger players on each roster will be trying to establish that they deserve the opportunities set to arise when the veterans leave.

Chiarot’s departure is going to mean a lot more time for Alexander Romanov, but the Russian hasn’t waited for that spot to be given him, earning it with his own play this year. There are also two good blue-line prospects, Janis Moser and Victor Soderstrom, looking to build their NHL resumes in Arizona.

Trading away forwards will mean even more resposibilities for the two teams’ All-Star representatives: Nick Suzuki for the Canadiens and Clayton Keller for the Coyotes, each of whom leads his team in points. There will also be spots for the Jesse Ylönens and Jan Jeniks of both franchises, as the front offices get an idea of what they already have in the system before adding a dozen or more future pieces when it comes time for the NHL Draft.

Montreal Canadiens projected lineup

Forwards

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Mike Hoffman Nick Suzuki Josh Anderson
Artturi Lehkonen Jake Evans Joel Armia
Rem Pitlick Christian Dvorak Jonathan Drouin
Michael Pezzetta Ryan Poehling Cole Caufield

Defencemen

Left Defence Right Defence
Left Defence Right Defence
Alexander Romanov Jeff Petry
Ben Chiarot David Savard
Brett Kulak Chris Wideman

Goaltenders

Starter Backup
Starter Backup
Samuel Montembeault Cayden Primeau

Arizona Coyotes projected lineup

Forwards

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Andrew Ladd Travis Boyd Clayton Keller
Lawson Crouse Johan Larsson Phil Kessel
Antoine Roussel Riley Nash Christian Fischer
Ryan Dzingel Alex Galchenyuk Nick Schmaltz

Defencemen

Left Defence Right Defence
Left Defence Right Defence
Shayne Gostisbehere Dysin Mayo
Janis Moser Ilya Lyubushkin
Vladislav Kolyachonok Victor Soderstrom

Goaltenders

Starter Backup
Starter Backup
Karel Vejmelka Ivan Prosvetov