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We’re less than two weeks away from the NHL Trade Deadline and now that the Canadiens seem to have found their groove under interim coach Martin St. Louis, it’s hard to tell if the trade decisions have become easier or more difficult.
Many players are coming out of their shells and showing us that they still have the skills that seemed to have disappeared for the majority of the 2021-22 season. In Saturday’s contest against the Edmonton Oilers, Nick Suzuki notched two goals during the same power play after one was overturned, and tallied his second three-point night in a row. That brings him up to a total of 40 points for this season so far.
The next closest player is 15 points below him, and that’s Artturi Lehkonen, who’s currently riding a four-game point streak with four goals — the latest one scored on Saturday — and one assist. Add to the offence of Suzuki and Lehkonen with Brendan Gallagher finally managing to get the monkey off his back (and a dumb unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on his record), a Cole Caufield goal (six points in his last five games), one for Mike Hoffman, and yet another disallowed goal, you’ve got yourself a darn good game with the Habs coming out on the winning side of a 5-2 victory in their last outing.
I’m not gonna lie. It was a tad concerning to see that Andrew Hammond was put on Injured Reserve with a lower-body injury the day before, leaving Cayden Primeau to back up Sam Montembeault once again. But, boy did Montembeault ease those concerns. He frustrated Leon Draisaitl on more than one occasion, which was quite enjoyable.
For those of you not keeping track, that makes the seventh win in the last eight games for the Canadiens.
Tale of the Tape
|47.4% (24th)||Scoring-chances-for %||49.7% (17th)|
|2.41 (31st)||Goals per game||2.82 (23rd)|
|3.79 (32nd)||Goals against per game||2.84 (13th)|
|13.5% (31st)||PP%||20.9% (16th)|
|74.1% (29th)||PK%||70.2% (32nd)|
The Vancouver Canucks are another team that has been benefiting from a coaching change. Since Bruce Boudreau came on board three months ago, they’re 20-8-4.
They had a big Saturday night win themselves, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-4. The Maple Leafs were riding a one-goal lead heading into the third before Vancouver rallied with three unanswered goals in the final period. Grabbing those two points helped them inch a little closer to a playoff spot.
Now, they’ll be settling in at home for a nice seven-game stretch. The Canucks will be working hard during this homestand because in order to be in the running for that coveted wild-card spot they’re going to need to win the majority of those games. If J.T. Miller has any say, they’ll be walking away with a few of those wins in their pockets. Miller is currently enjoying a nine-game point streak with 17 points and is the team’s top scorer with 63 points.
Perhaps drawing a few penalties will work in the Canadiens’ favour. The Canucks are struggling big time with their penalty kill, sitting in last place (yes, even below the Arizona Coyotes) while Montreal has been seeing some success in the power-play area, scoring four goals on the man advantage in their last three outings.
The last time these two teams met was way back on November 29 when the Canucks eked out a 2-1 win. Even with the two points, the Canucks joined the Canadiens at the bottom of their respective divisions.
These two teams still have a lot in common. Both are liking what their new bench boss is saying. Both are feeling pretty confident. They were both recently victorious over the Maple Leafs. Both are working for a playoff spot.... Fine; one playoff, one spoiler. But playing spoiler will be fun, too.