How to watch
The All-Star Game has come and gone, and that means teams are now on the downslope of their 2021-22 seasons. Unless you’re the Montreal Canadiens, of course, and tumbled back to the base shortly after beginning your journey.
With 44 games under their belt, the Habs have won eight times, taking just over 25% of the 88 points that have been available. They start the unofficial second half three points back of the Arizona Coyotes — a team that plans to take on bad contracts to boost its hoard of draft picks ahead of the deadline — for the 32nd spot in the league.
After spending weeks on the road as COVID restrictions kept the Habs from Montreal, they returned to the Bell Centre with a spirited comeback attempt versus the Anaheim Ducks a week ago, but then fell by scores of 7-2 and 6-3 to the Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets, respectively, to go into the break off some of their worst play of the year.
The players have now had a full week off to get away from the game and figure out their approach to these final 38 matches. For a handful of them, they’re going to want to make themselves as appealing as possible for contending teams to want them on their rosters, while others will just want to be better than they have been so far, with their sights set on next year.
Tale of the Tape
|45.5% (29th)||Scoring-chances-for %||51.8% (11th)|
|2.23 (31st)||Goals per game||2.74 (22nd)|
|3.91 (32nd)||Goals against per game||3.54 (29th)|
|14.0% (31st)||PP%||16.9% (24th)|
|73.3% (30th)||PK%||82.0% (12th)|
|1-1-1||H2H Record (19-20)||2-0-1|
Tonight’s opponent will be playing a second game in 24 hours. The Devils were dealt a 4-1 loss in Kanata versus the Ottawa Senators, seemingly looking to get into the conversation for the top odds for the first overall draft selection by running a losing streak to seven games. They’re now just a point up on the Senators with five more games played, but have a lot of work to not do to challenge the Habs’ standing.
New Jersey was playing its first game post-All-Star Weekend game without its All-Star, as Jack Hughes was placed in COVID protocol a day after claiming his share of the $1 million prize from the three-on-three tournament. It was the last round of testing the NHL plans to do for players exhibiting no symptoms, moving to a more lenient protocol going forward.
Montreal’s COVID news (as of Sunday night) was more positive: Cole Caufield is ready to come off the list and rejoin the team. He used the break to head to the University of Wisconsin to work in a place he’s enjoyed exceptional offensive success before, hoping to carry a new confidence when he returns to the ice. He’ll be focused on significantly improving his goal total of one before the season concludes.
It won’t be long before young players like him are making up the majority of the lineup, and he could be getting some new players still in their development joining him on the ice as trades are made. For now, however, with pro scouts ramping up their viewings ahead of the trade deadline, we’re likely to still see plenty of minutes for the veterans.