How to watch
The Canadiens had a week off to get away from the game, to take their minds completely off hockey and reset for the final half of the year. All the poor play from the first 44 games could be forgotten, and players could get back to the more representative performances they’d enjoyed before this year began.
Montreal returned to the ice two days ago for its first game in nine days. There had been no such reset.
The response to the 7-1 loss that followed defeats of 7-2 and 6-3 before the break was for Dominique Ducharme to be fired by Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes, one of the first moves the new general manager was involved in since being hired less than a month earlier. Tonight versus the Washington Capitals, the players will be hearing a new voice in their ears as Martin St. Louis takes the reins for the remainder of the season.
Tale of the Tape
|45.3% (29th)||Scoring-chances-for %||51.4% (12th)|
|2.20 (32nd)||Goals per game||3.21 (11th)|
|3.98 (32nd)||Goals against per game||2.77 (12th)|
|13.6% (31st)||PP%||15.6% (29th)|
|73.0% (30th)||PK%||78.0% (20th)|
He inherits a team that won’t be together long as several of his veterans are on the way out. Having an eye on the trade deadline was likely one of the reasons for the move, as player values could go nowhere but down with another month of the poor performances we’d been getting used to.
St. Louis scored a lot of goals in his career despite his smaller stature, so he will be sure to have plenty of advice for Cole Caufield. Back in the lineup, Caufield was once more getting chances to shoot, but his sights remain off, and some of those shots are from plays he tries to create completely on his own. At the very least, hopefully the dynamic talent we saw in the post-season last year can be restored in these final games.
The new coach also achieved a great deal of success on the penalty kill, especially in the first half of his career, and that will be one of the areas he’ll need to address first with the team’s top trade chips happening to be on the blue line.
Normally the penalty kill would be in for a workout from the Washington Capitals, but this year that man advantage isn’t having much success at all. The team is just two percentage points better than Montreal in that category, ranking 29th in the league.
They still score over three goals per game, sitting in the top eight of the NHL at five-on-five. That’s the situation Alexander Ovechkin has chosen to make his attack on Wayne Gretzky’s scoring record, currently holding the lowest power-play-goal total of the top five contenders for the Maurice Richard Trophy but leading the league in even-strength goals with 21.
The Capitals are comfortably in a playoff spot, but surely less enthused that it’s a wild-card position with the prospect of drawing either the Carolina Hurricanes or Florida Panthers in the first round. Washington has lost two games in a row, also coming out on the losing end versus the Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets in recent weeks as the Habs have, so they’ll want to get their game sorted out in short order to move into a seeded position in the Metropolitan Division.