Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Islanders
How to watch
Start time: **12:30 PM EST / 9:30 AM PST**
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Islanders region: MSGSN
Streaming: ESPN+, RDS Direct, TSN+
The New York Islanders were the talk of the league the last time the Canadiens played on January 31. They had acquired Bo Horvat well over a month before the NHL Trade Deadline, parting with Anthony Beauvillier, prospect Aatu Räty, and a protected first-round pick. In the days since, Horvat has competed for the Pacific Division at the All-Star Game while wearing his new Islanders patch, and signed an eight-year extension with his new club.
It was a major addition for a team that isn’t in a typical buyer’s position; the Islanders aren’t even in a wild-card spot at the moment. It’s clear they weren’t just looking for a rental player with the substantial contract he was signed to, instead adding a core piece for the foreseeable future.
As we often mention when talking about New York, it’s a team that has quite a few players under contract for several years to come. There are eight players on the roster now who are signed through at least the 2025-26 season, six of whom carry cap hits of $5 million or more. The Islanders are locked into win-now mode, and general manager Lou Lamoriello is expecting his team to leapfrog a few clubs to get into the post-season with a new centre to work with.
Tale of the Tape
|43.9% (30th)||Scoring-chances-for %||49.8% (22nd)|
|2.55 (29th)||Goals per game||2.89 (25th)|
|3.71 (28th)||Goals against per game||2.69 (8th)|
|15.6% (31st)||PP%||16.8% (27th)|
|72.8% (30th)||PK%||82.5% (4th)|
Kent Hughes’s work looks a bit different. The Canadiens aren’t plugging pieces into their core from other teams, but first looking to build the frame of the roster from within. This week we heard the comments from the GM that he’s intent on signing Sean Farrell at the conclusion of Harvard’s season, anticipating no issues. Just yesterday, he signed another NCAA product to an extension, inking Jordan Harris, a player he had a significant hand in signing in the first place after Marc Bergevin appeared to have given up on getting a deal done, to an extension. Hughes’s tasks don’t end there with 11 pending restricted free agents in the organization, and six with arbitration rights.
One of those players is Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, who has been a revelation for the Habs since he was called up from the AHL in mid-January. He was a significant reason why Montreal was able to go blow-for-blow with some of the top teams in the league on a recent homestand, using his tenacity and offensive talents to put pressure on some superior opponents. For the final shifts of his last game versus the Ottawa Senators, he was placed on the top line and responded with two goals in the third period that tied the score on both occasions. In the first two practices for the Canadiens after everyone enjoyed some needed time off, he was back in that spot alongside Nick Suzuki, as Martin St-Louis wants to see what more that partnership has to offer.
The time off was certainly welcome for the players, but a 10-day hiatus didn’t come with many injury recoveries. Jonathan Drouin is back with the team and appears to be the fourth-line centre for today’s game, but Joel Armia and Sean Monahan are still recuperating, and Joel Edmundson also remains out with his ailment.
With so many missing players, the Canadiens are finding it tough to win games. They’re now in another losing streak that has extended to four games. But this streak isn’t in the same category as the one in late December when there seemed to be no interest in pulling out of the tailspin. Strong performances from the likes of Harvey-Pinard and a steadily improving Kirby Dach are giving people plenty of entertainment, and improving the outlook for the team’s future.
The Canadiens aren’t going to make the playoffs, and they don’t have the incentive to try to beat the Islanders like they had when playing the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins in January. There will still be a desire for all the players to prove themselves, either the young players for next year or a few veterans for the more immediate trade deadline, but versus an Islanders team that recently made a major move and was just beaten by the team they made that trade with, another moral victory may be all we can expect from this rusty Habs team in a Saturday matinée.