It’s officially crunch time, not just for the players trying to make the Montreal Canadiens, but for Claude Julien and the rest of the Habs management.
With only two games remaining on the pre season schedule, the Canadiens are looking to stem the bleeding from their current 0-6 record, and get back on track before they open their season.
The Habs will come into tonight’s game with a fire lit underneath them, following Shea Weber’s comments stating that he doesn’t believe the Canadiens are ready to start the season.
These last two games are also the final chance for players on the bubble to make a lasting impression on Habs management. Players like Peter Holland and Byron Froese are competing for a spot as Montreal’s fourth line centre while Michael McCarron, Andreas Martinsen and Nikita Scherbak are also battling for a possible spot on the fourth line, as well as positioning themselves to be the first call up from the Laval Rocket.
Julien is also mixing and matching forwards for his Top Nine, which is almost set for the regular season. The Hudon – Plekanec – Lehkonen has been together the whole season and has been impressive thus far, and despite Hudon being a near lock to make the team this season, I expect him to have a standout game tonight to solidify his position on the team. He’s gained chemistry with both of his linemates thus far, despite his apparent nervousness around the veteran Plekanec.
There is also an interesting mix of lines among the forwards tonight, as Byron and Galchenyuk swap lines, with number 27 lining up next to the aforementioned Holland and Scherbak. This may not mean anything in terms of line ups for the season for Galchenyuk, as Julien may just want to get more reps in for the skilled forward before the season begins. The combination of Galchenyuk and Scherbak will be interesting to watch tonight, as they both possess high offensive instinct and could be a deadly duo tonight.
Jakub Jerabek and Brandon Davidson are paired tonight, and it could be to see which of the two out competes the other, as they’re both in play for one of the final spots in Montreal’s defensive roster. Victor Mete is also playing tonight, this time with Jordie Benn, and all eyes are on the young defender, as he’s close to defying the odds of making the Habs this season and it will be his first game without Weber.
Charlie Lindgren has recovered from his injury and will get the start tonight vs. the Panthers, and has a chance to maybe steal the back up spot from Al Montoya with a good performance tonight and possibly in the Canadiens final pre-season match up tomorrow against the Senators.
The Canadiens also recalled Michael McNiven before the game, but these seems to be extremely precautionary. No change has been made for the lineup.
The Canadiens recalled earlier goaltender M. McNiven from Laval (precautionary reasons). C. Lindgren and Z. Fucale in uniform tonight.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) September 29, 2017
Montreal Canadiens Projected Lineup
|Jacob de la Rose
Florida Panthers Projected Line Up