clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

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

After a good game in Martin St. Louis’s debut, can the Habs get their new coach a win this afternoon?

Columbus Blue Jackets v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Montreal Canadiens vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

How to watch

Start time: 12:30 PM EST / 9:30 AM PST
In Canada: Sportsnet East/West/Pacific/360 (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the Blue Jackets region: Bally Sports Ohio
Streaming: ESPN+, NHL Live, Sportsnet Now

Less than two weeks ago, the Columbus Blue Jackets caught the Montreal Canadiens at one of their lowest points of the season. They had just given up seven goals to the Edmonton Oilers the night before, showing little interest getting involved in the action. They did score the first goal against the Blue Jackets in that game, but proceeded to give up four goals before the opening period concluded, and went on to lose 6-3, heading into the All-Star break on a six-game losing streak.

One more lackadaisical loss after the pause spelled the end for Dominique Ducharme as head coach, and Martin St. Louis was brought into the mix to spark the club. He didn’t get much time to make any changes to the team’s play, so he had to work on the fly.

We saw St. Louis constantly talking to the players on the bench in his debut, and as those conversations progressed, so did the play on the ice. The Habs looked just as rough as usual in the first period, but were substantially better in the final 40 minutes, and had put together one of their best games in a long time by the end of the night.

The result may have been an eighth straight loss, but for the first time in a while the players could leave the rink feeling good about their game and excited for what was to come in their next match. It’s going to be a very different team that Columbus opposes in its return to the Bell Centre.

Tale of the Tape

Canadiens Statistics Blue Jackets
Canadiens Statistics Blue Jackets
8-31-7 Record 22-22-1
45.6% (29th) Scoring-chances-for % 45.9% (26th)
2.20 (32nd) Goals per game 3.16 (13th)
4.00 (32nd) Goals against per game 3.67 (30th)
13.9% (31st) PP% 16.8% (25th)
73.6% (29th) PK% 80.0% (16th)
0-1-0 H2H Record 1-0-0

That 6-3 loss featured goals from Nick Suzuki, Tyler Toffoli, and Artturi Lehkonen, three players who had found a way to create their own success while the team around them slogged through the season. It was nice for St. Louis that he had one line he didn’t need to address in his takeover, but there was a lot of work to be done on the other 17 players dressing for the game.

His first order of business was to improve the defence, which, by the post-game accounts, seems to have been done by telling them to abandon what they’d been told to do by the previous coach and just play a simply man-to-man style. Much of the improvement the team made through the first game of St. Louis’s tenure was from getting the puck out of their zone, which had mostly been executed in recent games by linesmen carting the puck back to centre ice after goals.

Unfortunately, that was still a common means of transportation on Thursday as Cayden Primeau struggled to make saves for his team. St. Louis made a point to speak to him after being forced to pull the young goaltender, but that aspect of the team is something even the Hall of Famer will need outside help to fix. Samuel Montembeault will probably be the one to start today’s game, and as long as he doesn’t surrender half a dozen goals might get the start again tomorrow in the Super Bowl Sunday matinée.

The initial reaction for many when St. Louis’s arrival was announced was that Cole Caufield would be one of the main beneficiaries of the coaching change. Those of us who thought so probably weren’t expecting the relationship to pay such immediate dividends, but it’s easy to look like a genius when you place a player with goal-scoring records under his belt in the best opportunity to score, which the new coach did at every chance on the power play.

Caufield took advantage of that deployment to score his first power-play goal of the year. A second shot that found the net later in the game may not have stood up to official scrutiny, but there’s no doubt Caufield looked like the dangerous offensive force he was all of the 2020-21 season, and that’s the most exciting development for the final portion of the season.

Getting goals from other sources will be important, because the Blue Jackets have been on a bit of a roll lately. They haven’t scored fewer than four goals in their past five games, and Patrik Laine is leading the way with six goals and four assists in that time, while linemates Boone Jenner and Gustav Nyqvist aren’t far behind. Even if the Suzuki line has one of its typically strong outings, it may just break even versus Columbus’s top trio, so secondary scoring could very well be the difference between a ninth consecutive loss and a new puck for St Louis’s trophy case.

Montreal Canadiens projected lineup

Forwards

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Artturi Lehkonen Nick Suzuki Tyler Toffoli
Rem Pitlick Jake Evans Josh Anderson
Mike Hoffman Paul Byron Brendan Gallagher
Joel Armia Ryan Poehling Cole Caufield

Defencemen

Left Defence Right Defence
Left Defence Right Defence
Brett Kulak Jeff Petry
Alexander Romanov Ben Chiarot
Kale Clague Chris Wideman

Goaltenders

Starter Backup
Starter Backup
Samuel Montembeault Cayden Primeau

Columbus Blue Jackets projected lineup

Forwards

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Patrik Laine Boone Jenner Gustav Nyqvist
Jakub Voracek Cole Sillinger Oliver Bjorkstrand
Yegor Chinakov Sean Kuraly Max Domi
Trey Fix-Wolansky Jack Roslovic Brendan Gaunce

Defencemen

Left Defence Right Defence
Left Defence Right Defence
Zach Werenski Andrew Peeke
Vladislav Gavrikov Adam Boqvist
Gavin Bayreuther Dean Kukan

Goaltenders

Starter Backup
Starter Backup
Elvis Merzlikins Joonas Korpisalo