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The Canadiens have added three points to their season total in the past two games, first from a win versus the Dallas Stars and then an overtime loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. Montreal wasn’t exactly in top form in those games, allowing 104 shots total, but Samuel Montembeault stopped 97 of them to steal some positive results.
It’s time for Montembeault to get a rest from that excessive workload, so while he convalesces on the sidelines, Cayden Primeau will take the net tonight, and probably for the full 60 minutes no matter what happens.
What happens will likely be more of what Montembeault had to deal with this week, because the Colorado Avalanche put among the most shots on target of any team in the NHL. They’re fifth-best in shots per game, while Montreal is dead last in allowing them, so the Canadiens’ young goaltender will need to be prepared for an onslaught.
Tale of the Tape
|45.6% (25th)||Scoring-chances-for %||54.1% (5th)|
|2.18 (32nd)||Goals per game||4.18 (1st)|
|3.67 (31st)||Goals against per game||3.05 (20th)|
|12.7% (31st)||PP%||23.8% (10th)|
|73.7% (28th)||PK%||75.2% (27th)|
If there’s one encouraging aspect of Colorado’s shooting tendencies, it’s that many of those shots come from distance. They’re a middle-of-the-pack team in the category of high-danger scoring chances, and only a few places up on Montreal.
There is one significant difference, however: the Avalanche’s offensive weapons are much more potent than Montreal’s. While the shot locations may not be so dangerous, the players holding the sticks certainly are.
Colorado’s roster features a whopping six players producing more than a point-per-game average, and there are only 38 players in the league who can say that. The incredible trio of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen is in that group, and joined by burgeoning superstar Cale Makar. Makar’s defence partner, Devon Toews, also features on the list with 28 points in 27 games, while Nazem Kadri has been the star of the show in Colorado this season, with 51 points that rank him fifth on the Art Ross leaderboard.
The Avalanche have been held to fewer than three goals on only six occasions this year. Based on how the Habs have been defending, they’re probably not going to make that seven, so their only hope will be to score a lot of goals themselves. That is something they’ve been doing in recent games.
Montreal’s power play has goals in four consecutive contests, this after a streak of nine games without one. Tyler Toffoli has been a major reason for that sudden shift in fortunes. He helped set up Christian Dvorak for one man-advantage marker versus Dallas, then scored one of his own on Thursday. It’s no coincidence that both goals came from plays around the goal line rather than the usual strategy of trying to create shots from the point, and that will be a key to continued success.
It would be helpful if he continued his form on the penalty kill as well, because as good as the Habs’ power play may be at the moment, Colorado has been great in that situation all season long. Keeping a unit running at around 24% on its toes with the threat of a counter-attack will help neutralize some of the opposition’s immense talent.