Canadiens vs Predators - Game Preview
The Canadiens have won four in a row and are looking to make it five tonight against the Predators, a team that has historically stymied them.
After sneaking a win out of their first meeting in nearly two years against Columbus, the Montreal Canadiens will be attempting to do the same job on the Nashville Predators.
The Preds have started out the season much the same way they always do; struggling to produce offense. Nashville has scored just 14 goals in 7 games, and at even strength they're giving up a goal for every 0.75 they manage to score.
It's not all bad news for the Preds though, as after several years of being a terrible possession team, they're currently 10th in the league in Fenwick close percentage, just behind the Habs. This is likely in no small part due to the additions youngsters like Seth Jones, Filip Forsberg, and the finally emerging Ryan Ellis.
Allowing Jones and Shea Weber to play together has rejuvenated Weber's possession game, which makes Nashville a much stronger opponent than when they last faced Montreal, a 2-1 win on November 12th, 2011. The signs are there for Nashville that the goals should begin to come, even if it will be at a lower rate than average due to the lack of offensive talent on the team.
They could use a return to form from Pekka Rinne though, who through seven starts has a lowly .901 save percentage while facing just over 24 shots per game.
The Canadiens on the other hand, have begun to struggle a little bit, which is hidden behind two hot starts that were backstopped by brilliant performances by Carey Price. Two straight games the Canadiens have fallen back into a shell fairly early in the game and allowed their opponents to come at them.
Against Winnipeg the defense held up well, but against Columbus the Habs were picked apart as the game went on, and blew a three goal lead, needing a late goal from Tomas Plekanec to seal the deal. The Canadiens were significantly outchanced in the game, which is something they'll need to avoid against the Nashville tonight.
The loss of Max Pacioretty has hurt the versatility of the Canadiens' attack, which isn't helped by the struggles of both David Desharnais' line, and Lars Eller's. Montreal will need to see marked improvement from youngsters Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk in secondary tough minutes in order to begin dominating the possession game again.
They'll also need a rebound game from Josh Gorges and Raphael Diaz, both of whom were shredded by Columbus at even strength and on the penalty kill, which is a problem as well.
Montreal will need to depend on another excellent game from P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov, who have been ridiculously excellent thus far.
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