Canadiens vs. Blues: Game preview, start time, and how to watch
On a five game winning streak, how will the Habs fare against Tarasenko and co.?
Three days after the Montreal Canadiens dismantled the Detroit Red Wings at home, they welcome one of the Western Conference’s top teams to the Bell Centre.
Montreal has scored 25 goals on their current five-game winning streak, with contributions coming from up and down the lineup. After being held goalless for three straight games, Paul Byron broke out in the Canadiens previous game, scoring his first career hat trick.
Brendan Gallagher has continued his strong play as of late, as he has four goals in the last five games to pad his point lead for the club. Charles Hudon and Alex Galchenyuk have been very productive, as the two offensive-minded forwards have four and eight points in the last five games, respectively.
In this coming stretch of games, the Canadiens have the opportunity to snag a possible 18 points with a relatively favourable schedule. Minus tonight against the Blues, they will have matchups against the New Jersey Devils, Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators, Edmonton Oilers and the Vancouver Canucks. Being only six points away from second place in the Atlantic Division, this stretch will be crucial for the Canadiens as they attempt to gain ground within the Eastern Conference.
The play of Carey Price in this stretch will definitely determine how the Canadiens fare before the New Year, as his performance since returning earned him second star of the week honours for the NHL. In four games since returning, hiss save percentage has climbed to over 900, and he has clearly instilled enormous confidence in his teammates.
How to watch
Puck drop: 7:30 PM EST / 4:30 PM PST
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
Elsewhere: FS-MW, NHL.tv/NHL GameCentre Live, NHL Center Ice
The St. Louis Blues have been one of the NHL's best teams this season, having held a tight grip on the top spot in the Western Conference until being dethroned by the Winnipeg Jets in recent days. They've hit a rough patch as of late however, sporting a 4-5-1 record in their last 10 games.
Superstar sniper Vladimir Tarasenko has been this team's top player in recent years, and is having a great season with 12 goals and 17 assists. But this year, it's been Jaden Schwartz who's stolen the show in St. Louis, with 32 points so far this season. New face Brayden Schenn is second with 30 after being acquired in the off-season from the Philadelphia Flyers.
The key for St. Louis' success has been their defence. Since Kevin Shattenkirk departed for the New York Rangers, Alex Pietrangelo has stepped up to cement his place as the team's mainstay on the blue line. With 20 points and a +9 rating, his strong play has people placing him as an early Norris Trophy candidate. Hulking sophmore defender Colton Parayko has also been a big boost to this defence core, having scored 14 points so far this season, easing the loss of Shattenkirk.
St. Louis' special teams are almost identical to the Habs, so we may not see as much of a special team's battle tonight. In the game against Detroit, Montreal's power play went one-for-two, and killed off Detroit’s one power play opportunity.
Jake Allen will most likely start for the Blues, sporting a 13-6-0 record. However, with a save percentage of .907 and a GAA of 2.73, Montreal will be looking to pressure him early and often in this matchup.
A team of St. Louis’s calibre should prove to be an excellent test for the resurgent Habs.