How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: CityTV, Sportsnet East (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the Blues region: Bally Sports Midwest
The Montreal Canadiens have found themselves in such a downward spiral that everyone is already convinced they will get the first overall pick again, and this time select recent WJC gold medallist Connor Bedard.
That would be understandable, yet it’s (only!) January and the team hasn’t even played half its season. The Habs have put together a dreadful (and season-high) seven-game losing streak, going 0-6-1 in that span.
Tale of the Tape
|44.19% (28th)||Scoring-chances-for %||46.06% (24th)|
|2.56 (30th)||Goals per game||3.13 (19th)|
|3.79 (29th)||Goals against per game||3.64 (25th)|
|14.8% (32nd)||PP%||23.9% (12th)|
|73.8% (23rd)||PK%||71.6% (29th)|
Having notched only three out of a possible 14 road points, they returned home Thursday night to a home crowd, only to drop that contest 4-1 to the New York Rangers. Former Hab Jaroslav Halak backstopped the Blueshirts with 17 saves for the victory, Filip Chytil had a pair of goals in the win, and bitter Montreal rival Chris Kreider added a short-handed goal, Montreal’s first allowed all season. Braden Schneider rounded out the scoring.
For Montreal, it was the slumping Joel Armia who broke the goose egg with just over five minutes left in the game. It was Armia’s first goal in 31 games played, dating back to last April 11 when he scored against Winnipeg. The 29-year-old Finnish forward, currently in the second year of his four-year contract at $3,4 million, has been the constant subject of trade talk for a team looking to add size.
The Canadiens as a whole have been struggling up and down their lineup, with their offence and defence both toward the bottom of the league through the first 39 games. It was just announced that captain Nick Suzuki will be their representative at the NHL All-Star Game in February in Florida, a slightly questionable pick when you consider that since December 1, the captain has notched only three goals, compared to his linemate Cole Caufield who in the same time frame has amassed 10.
The young Caufield, who just turned 22 on January 2, is currently sitting at 22 goals this season. Last season through 67 games, he hit his career-high of 23, so you have to anticipate him tying or even surpassing this milestone on Saturday night.
The Canadiens have also struggled with injuries all throughout the season, and the team just announced some updates Friday morning. Forwards Brendan Gallagher and Sean Monahan are still two weeks away from returning to the lineup, as is defender and hometown boy Mike Matheson. The outlook was not as positive for rookie standout Kaiden Guhle, who landed awkwardly during a game on the recent road trip. His estimated timetable for a return is at a troublesome eight weeks.
The St. Louis Blues have had their own share of issues this season, but that’s also part of the game. They have won three of their last four and do find themselves two games over .500, but it comes at a price. The Blues’ medical staff has just given the news that forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and team captain Ryan O’Reilly will miss a substantial amount of time with foot and hand injuries, respectively.
They have won both games in 2023 thus far, with a 6-5 shootout win Tuesday versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, and a 5-3 victory Thursday against the New Jersey Devils. Through St. Louis’s 19 wins this season, 12 have come as they were the visitor, something that doesn’t bode well for the host Canadiens.
Leading the way for the Blues is forward Jordan Kyrou. The 24-year-old has 19 goals and 19 assists this season, and has nine goals and seven assists in his last 10 games alone. The Toronto native had 27 goals and 75 points last season for a career-high through 74 games. He seems to be well on his way to surpassing that this year.
Their tandem of Jordan Binnington and Thomas Greiss has been trying its best to stop the opponent’s offence, but their numbers aren’t something to write home about. Binnington’s 3.21 goals-against average and .894 save percentage are career lows for the 2019 Stanley Cup-winner. Hopefully Montreal can take advantage of his unstableness and sneak a few past him.
Saturday evening’s game is the second and last meeting between these two this season. They met back on October 29, and the Canadiens exploded for a 7-4 win in St. Louis. Habs forward Christian Dvorak led the way in the game when he scored three for his first career hat trick. Caufield also had a pair, Suzuki and rookie Juraj Slafkovsky filled out the offence, and former Blue Jake Allen made 26 saves in the win.
Having been outscored by a 36-12 margin through their losing skid, if the Canadiens could muster enough offence like their last tilt versus St. Louis, chances are high for snapping their skid. One thing’s for sure: it would be about time.
Guess we’ll have to find out if they can unlock their offensive game together ... at the rink.