How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: CBC, Sportsnet East/Pacific (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the U.S.: NHL Network
In the Kraken region: ROOT Northwest
Streaming: ESPN+, NHL Live, Sportsnet Now
The Montreal Canadiens had a strong road trip going when they headed into Vancouver, looking to go a very good 4-1 since their last game at the Bell Centre after sweeping through Alberta. But the Habs simply didn’t have their best game for a late start on Wednesday night.
The defensive play that had slipped in Winnipeg a week earlier showed its warts once more with the Canadiens unable to contain the Canucks’ offensive players. Coverage looked confused, leaving players to scramble trying to close off lanes, and they surrendered another handful of goals as a result.
Even so, as we saw in the game in Winnipeg, the players stuck with it right to the end despite looking outmatched and netted three goals of their own, led by Artturi Lehkonen adding another two to his season tally.
The good news is that the tables get turned tonight as Montreal’s opponent is the one wrapping up a long road trip on the opposite side of the continent. The Seattle Kraken hasn’t won any of the four games on this trip, and have dropped their last eight games away from Climate Pledge Arena.
Tale of the Tape
|45.9% (27th)||Scoring-chances-for %||49.3% (18th)|
|2.42 (32nd)||Goals per game||2.57 (29th)|
|3.81 (32nd)||Goals against per game||3.60 (29th)|
|13.1% (31st)||PP%||14.8% (29th)|
|73.6% (29th)||PK%||73.9% (28th)|
They’ve dropped more games than many were expecting this year. They didn’t acquire a roster close to what the Vegas Golden Knights amassed in the previous expansion draft, but they did have a lineup on paper that seemed capable of making life difficult for their opposition, especially in a relatively weak division.
Their underlying numbers suggest just such a team; they average as many shots as they allow each game, and they’re a middle-of-the-pack team in five-on-five scoring-chance share at 49.3%. The main problem is that the goaltenders are unable to keep them in games.
With a tandem of Philipp Grubauer and Chris Driedger, two netminders who did very well with the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers, respectively, before being drafted, that was the one aspect of the team that was supposed to be solid in Seattle’s inaugural season. Grubauer held a .920 career save percentage, Driedger’s sat at .929. This year, they’ve each only managed to turn aside about eight of every nine shots they’ve faced, ranking 59th and 60th on the list of 64 goaltenders to play at least 12 games.
The offence hasn’t been able to hold up its end of the bargain either, which was more to be expected when they didn’t have many top-six forwards to choose from. But they did get one very good centre in the process, and just this week they signed him to a five-year contract extension. Jared McCann has 22 goals for the club, and the 25-year-old will now be one of its star players going forward.
McCann is in a three-way tie atop the team leaderboard with Jordan Eberle and Yanni Gourde, all of whom have 34 points. Those two players have several years left on their current contracts, so there are some pieces to work with up front to build a more competitive team.
It’s a situation similar to what Montreal is facing for its rebuild, with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield forming the core, but the Habs have a much deeper prospect pool to draw upon than the first-year franchise. Both teams currently have their eyes on the trade deadline just over a week away, aiming to exchange expiring contracts for players and prospects who can flesh out the rosters from the blossoming stars currently in place.