Maybe a hurricane rolling through town is exactly what the Montreal Canadiens need.
Perhaps the Carolina Hurricanes can sweep in and wipe out the Habs own tornado of turmoil.
Or worst case scenario, they combine to make some kind of horrifying hurri-nado!
Eat your heart out, Shark-nado.
It’s only taken a little over six weeks, but Jesperi Kotkaniemi is back in Montreal.
Kotkaniemi and his new team the Canes invade the Bell Centre tonight. The Montreal Canadiens won’t be particularly welcoming to their ex-teammate after the former third overall pick signed a one-year, $6.1 million dollar offer in late August. Add in the fact the Habs are winless four games into their season plus a clear rivalry between the two organizations and sparks could fly in downtown Montreal tonight.
“I wish I could have kept working with him,” said a diplomatic Dominique Ducharme on Kotkaniemi after practice this morning. “But I understand the situation where they put that pile of money on the table for him and he said yes. Who would have said no?”
Montreal Canadiens head coach Ducharme made significant changes to his lines and pairings at practice the past two days. Forward Mathieu Perreault has gone from fourth-line winger to a healthy scratch to third-line centre over the past week. He’ll be between two rather dynamic wingers in Tyler Toffoli and Cole Caufield tonight.
On the blueline, the aforementioned tornado broke up the pairing of Ben Chiarot and David Savard. They’ll be next to Chris Wideman and Alexander Romanov respectively. Jake Allen will get the start in goal.
Here are how the Montreal Canadiens will line up against the Carolina Hurricanes tonight
Drouin – Dvorak – Anderson
Hoffman – Suzuki – Gallagher
Toffoli – Perreault – Caufield
Lehkonen – Evans – Armia
Kulak – Petry
Romanov – Savard
Chiarot – Wideman
Injury update: GM Marc Bergevin called the chances that captain Shea Weber will play again a “longshot” after practice yesterday. He also said that defenceman Joel Edmundson has left the team due to personal reasons as his dad battles lung cancer. He is rehabbing a lower-body injury as well. Bergevin also said he has had no update on goaltender Carey Price since he checked into the NHL/NHLPA’s joint player assistance program. Sami Niku is back from his concussion but is a healthy scratch along with forward Cedric Paquette. Forward Paul Byron has skated in Brossard but is still only expected back in the new year after off-season hip surgery.
Carolina winger Kotkaniemi spoke to members of the Montreal media on Tuesday about his return to the Bell Centre.
When asked about how he feels about likely being booed by la foule tonight, the Finn took it in stride.
“You know, everyone is going to have their opinion on that,” smiled Kotkaniemi about fans not understanding his decision to sign the offer sheet. “I think I just did what was best for me in the moment. So, I feel everyone can do whatever they want.”
Even a fan favourite like P.K Subban was booed on his return to Montreal! So there is no doubt 21,000 plus aren’t going to spare Kotkaniemi. His departure created a firestorm of debate around the fan base about whether the Montreal Canadiens should have let him go or matched the offer sheet.
Hell hath no fury like a Habs fanbase scorned!
It hasn’t been all roses for Kotkaniemi so far in Carolina. He has found himself on the fourth line at times as new head coach Rob Brind’Amour tries to figure out how best to use him. Tonight, he’ll slot in on the left of fellow countrymen and once-offer sheeted-by-the-Habs centreman Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen.
New look netminders
Kotkaniemi isn’t the only new face in Canes country. Carolina completely revamped their goaltending position in the off-season. They let Petr Mrazek leave in free agency and traded Alex Nedeljkovic to Detroit. The Hurricanes signed former Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen to a two-year, $9 million dollar contract in free agency. Then turned around and signed Antti Raanta to a two-year, $4 million dollar contract as well. Andersen is expected to get the start tonight against the Montreal Canadiens.
The Hurricanes are 2-0 this season after a 6-3 victory over the Islanders and a 3-2 win over the Predators. They are expected to challenge for the top spot in the Metropolitan division this season.
Here are the lines for the Carolina Hurricanes tonight per Puckpedia
Kotkaniemi – Aho – Teravainen
Svechnikov – Trochek – Necas
Niederreiter – Staal – Fast
Martinook – Stepan – Lorentz
Slavin – Bear
Skjei – Pesce
Cole – Deangelo
Injury update: Defenceman Jake Gardiner is on IR due to hip and back surgery. He’s only expected back in March. Centreman Jamieson Rees is also on injured reserve with a right knee injury.
- The Montreal Canadiens have a record of 110-67-20-8 all-time against the Carolina Hurricanes.
- Carolina are 10-3-2 their last 15 games against the Habs
- Remember him! Charlie Lindgren was the last Habs goaltender to face the Canes. Lindgren stopped 30 of 33 shots in an OT victory for the Canadiens over Carolina on February 29th, 2020.
- Brendan Gallagher is stuck on 170 career assists, one away from tying David Desharnais for 50th most all-time in franchise history
- Carolina forward Teuvo Teravainen is two goals away from 100 career goals
- Centreman Vincent Trochek is two assists away from 200 career assists
- Killers: Carolina are one of four teams in the league yet to surrender a power-play goal
How to Watch: TSN 2 (Regional), RDS, Bally Sports South, Fox Sports South, ESPN+
How to Listen: TSN 690, 98.5, 99.9 the Fan
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