How to watch
With so many losses piling up (the streak is now eight), it’s hard not to feel that each one is as terrible as the last. Yet despite last night’s final score of 6-4 in favour of the Ottawa Senators, the Montreal Canadiens played rather well — not great by any means, but with a strong enough performance to deserve a win.
The Habs didn’t get a positive result from the game, while the Arizona Coyotes mounted a comeback to earn a point versus the St. Louis Blues. The two clubs are now tied in points (51) from the same number of games (79), and Arizona has more wins. This means the Canadiens would secure the 32nd spot and the best odds for the draft lottery if they lose the final three games of the season, all coming versus playoff teams.
First up are the Boston Bruins who have traveled to Montreal for a second game in 24 hours as well. The Bruins still have a shot at moving up in the standings, which would be the difference between playing one of either the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes as a wild-card team, or facing off with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round.
I think they are going to be motivated to jump up a position.
Tale of the Tape
|45.1% (29th)||Scoring-chances-for %||55.2% (4th)|
|2.54 (31st)||Goals per game||3.04 (16th)|
|3.89 (32nd)||Goals against per game||2.67 (5th)|
|12.9% (31st)||PP%||20.9% (17th)|
|74.9% (27th)||PK%||82.0% (8th)|
The Bruins are now well-equipped for the task. Their injury list only contains defenceman Jakub Zboril, as David Pastrnak and Hampus Lindholm returned to action yesterday. There haven’t been many Bruins to stay healthy all season long, so this week leading up to the playoffs is a rare occasion to play at their full strength.
Pastrnak wasted no time getting involved after missing eight games, scoring the opening goal and assisting on the second. He now sits at 39 goals on the year, the second-best total of his career.
Oddly enough, he hasn’t found the back of the net versus Montreal this year. Despite the Bruins outscoring the Habs 13-5, Pastrnak has just a single assist through three games. The most dangerous player has instead been Brad Marchand, who has racked up five goals — one-sixth of his total production on the season — plus an assist.
Cole Caufield’s milestone may pale in comparison to the top stars on the rival Bruins, but he managed to reach the 20-goal mark last night versus Ottawa, a feat that seemed impossible a week into the month of February. That goal was one of the better stories from the game versus the Senators, along with Rem Pitlick looking more like the player who was challenging Nick Suzuki for the title of most effective player in the lineup on a nightly basis several weeks ago.
The bad news is that one reason why a game the Habs controlled for much of the night still resulted in a loss (other than the usual in-zone defensive ineptitude) was the play of Carey Price; more specifically the movement of the team’s franchise goaltender. Every adjustment seemed laboured from Price, and his attempts at lateral pushes were resulting in him losing balance and nearly falling to the ice instead. He doesn’t appear to be in a great deal of pain because he just hops back up again every time, but there’s something clearly awry with the knee that has held him out for the majority of the season.
We wondered if maybe Martin St. Louis was playing Price last night with the plan to give him both games of this back-to-back this weekend, but after watching him last night, that may not be the best idea. The Bruins get a lot of their offence from cross-ice passes, and that’s something Price would have difficulty with. He would surely love to play at the level that propelled the team to the Stanley Cup Final a year ago in a matchup of this significance, but without the lower-body control that has defined his career, it’s hard to envision anything but another multi-goal loss being the end result.