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Canadiens vs. Flames: Game preview, start time, Tale of the Tape, and how to watch

Montreal needs a better start after a few rough games.

Calgary Flames v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images

Montreal Canadiens vs. Calgary Flames

How to watch

Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: Sportsnet (English)
In the Canadiens region: RDS (French)

As they had done a few times in recent games, the Habs had a rough first period on Saturday night when they hosted the Los Angeles Kings after a long road trip. The shots were 16-5 after 20 minutes, and even that total of five for Montreal seemed to be from a generous counter in the opening few minutes of play. The Canadiens were down 2-0 before the midpoint of the period, and a quick flurry in the final minutes of regulation wasn’t enough to overcome the start.

The current run of poor performances began in the first game of the road trip when Montreal visited the Calgary Flames. Thanks to the incredible play of Jake Allen and the opponent’s inability to finish its chances, the Habs got the win, but they were outshot 46-19 in the process.

Montreal was fortunate to catch the Flames’ offence on a down night in that game; they’ve scored at least four goals four times in their past seven games, most recently matching the Toronto Maple Leafs blow-for-blow in a 5-4 overtime loss on Saturday. If Montreal comes out the same way tonight they did versus the Kings and this same Flames team 11 days ago, they’re likely to find themselves in a deep hole once again.

Tale of the Tape

Canadiens Statistics Flames
Canadiens Statistics Flames
13-12-2 Record 13-11-4
45.3% (26th) Scoring-chances-for % 50.6% (17th)
2.93 (25th) Goals per game 3.04 (21st)
3.56 (24th) Goals against per game 3.07 (14th)
15.7% (30th) PP% 20.4% (24th)
80.7% (9th) PK% 80.2% (10th)
1-0-0 H2H Record 0-1-0

One of the biggest concerns for the Habs is how often — and for how long — they’re getting hemmed in their own zone. Many shifts find players chasing puck-carriers around the perimeter, unable to get ahold of the puck and launch a counter-attack. In very few of these recent games have we said Montreal was unlucky to not score more, because they simply aren’t able to generate enough shots or chances.

Injuries forcing near-daily alterations to the lineup aren’t helping, and Sean Monahan’s absence is one of the most difficult to deal with. Martin St-Louis tried to make up for the loss of the veteran centre by returning Kirby Dach to the middle for the last game, but that experiment didn’t survive the night as he ultimately reunited the top line in a bid for a late comeback. It will be the case in the future that Nick Suzuki and Dach have their own lines on the team; for now, them playing together is the only hope the team has of outscoring opponents.

Following a slow start to the season, several of the Flames’ offensive players have begun to come to life. Elias Lindholm had been one of the league’s top goal-scorers in recent years, but even after a three-game goal streak that began versus Montreal, he still has yet to hit double digits on the season. Nazem Kadri, Tyler Toffoli, and Andrew Mangiapane also have three goals in this seven-game stretch, and Kadri now leads the team with 11 goals, one of the lowest leading totals in the NHL (a few teams are paced by 10, and Max Domi leads the Chicago Blackhawks with just nine).

With St-Louis’s plan for two reliable lines of offence foiled, the coach needs to try something else until Monahan is ready to return. He did get Mike Hoffman back on Saturday, and that brought the team one goal. Hoffman had been performing very well before he was knocked out of the lineup by injury, with a run of six points in six games, so it would be helpful for the cause if he’s picking up where he left off.

Jonathan Drouin is also near the end of his recovery from injury and may be an option for this game. He was also playing quite well at the time of his injury, with points in back-to-back games, and just the odd point every couple of matches would help reduce the burden on Suzuki and Cole Caufield. Somehow those two star players are showing no signs of letting up their incredible scoring paces, and no matter what happens on the other three lines, they’re sure to be major factors in tonight’s result as well.