How to watch
The NHL didn’t plan on it, but it ended up with several games between the worst teams in the league days before the trade deadline, which is rather handy for front offices sending scouts to look for help on their playoff runs. First the Canadiens fell 4-3 in a shootout to the Seattle Kraken, then the Habs flipped the script with an overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Now they prepare to play the Arizona Coyotes to kick off a six-game homestand.
They may have two of the worst records in the league over the season played to date, but at this moment they’re two of the hottest clubs in the NHL. The Canadiens are on an 8-2-1 run since Martin St. Louis’s tenure kicked off with three losses. The Coyotes have won seven of their last 10, and that has moved them up a spot in the Western Conference, leapfrogging the Kraken. Only the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes have equaled or bettered the last-10-game records of tonight’s opponents.
Tale of the Tape
|46.2% (27th)||Scoring-chances-for %||43.9% (32nd)|
|2.46 (32nd)||Goals per game||2.58 (29th)|
|3.78 (32nd)||Goals against per game||3.54 (28th)|
|13.0% (31st)||PP%||12.8% (32nd)|
|73.7% (29th)||PK%||73.2% (30th)|
We know all about the sudden turnaround in Montreal being led by Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield, with key contributions from Artturi Lehkonen, Rem Pitlick, and Ben Chiarot in that time. The Coyotes have been seeing incredible performances from Nick Schmaltz and Clayton Keller, the former of whom recently had a franchise-record seven points versus the Ottawa Senators on March 5, and would still be well above a point-per-game average in this 10-game span without them. Those two players enter the game tonight on six-game point streaks, combining for four points last night in Ottawa.
The most impressive displays on Monday belonged to a couple of their teammates, however. Lawson Crouse had the team’s first three goals: one at five-on-five and in each special-teams situation. Scott Wedgewood probably slept like a log on the trip to Montreal after stopping 40 shots in a game played largely in front of him, with shots 43-14 Ottawa.
It’s likely to be Karel Vejmelka who gets the call in net tonight for the Coyotes, and since Samuel Montembeault played on back-to-back nights on the weekend, you’d have to expect that he will get the nod again after a day off. It seems at the moment that Cayden Primeau is just a placeholder until Jake Allen is ready to return, and it sounds like that could be happening soon.
We don’t yet know the statuses of Artturi Lehkonen and Ryan Poehling for tonight after both were ruled out with injuries on Sunday. Those losses forced some line-juggling for the coach, but a bit of experimentation isn’t a bad thing to find alternate avenues of chemistry in these final games. Suzuki still had two goals, including one while playing with Mike Hoffman and Brendan Gallagher, Caufield hit the scoresheet again on a pass from Rem Pitlick, who had tied up the game while on a short-handed shift with Suzuki, so things turned out alright for the team.
There are plenty of players performing well on both rosters, so the game could feature plenty of scoring chances. Most people will be writing off a duel between the 30th- and 32nd-ranked teams on an 11-game slate, but if Arizona has any gas left in the tank, it could end up being one of the most entertaining of the day.