You can bet that Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme looks at the season in 10 game segments.
Just look at all the changes he’s made since the team’s 10th game of the season, Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the Ducks.
Cole Caufield was sent down to the Laval Rocket yesterday. Michael Pezzetta was called up in his place followed by Alex Belzile who was recalled earlier today.
The coaching staff is clearly putting a bigger emphasis on grit ahead of the next 10 games starting tonight against Detroit.
“Their training camp, the way they’ve played in Laval,” said Ducharme about the reasons why he’s giving Belzile and Pezzetta a chance. “What can they bring to the team? We know they are two different players but both have character, they work hard, are hard on pucks and a pain to play against. We’ll see how things go tonight for them.”
If the coach is hoping that Belzile and Pezzetta bring an edge up front, then his decision on the back end looks curious to say the least. Alexander Romanov looks set to be a healthy scratch tonight for the first time this season. After getting praise from the coach for his performance against San Jose, Romanov will sit after being beaten up the ice by Anaheim’s Troy Terry for what proved to be the game-winner Sunday afternoon.
Without Mathieu Perreault due to injury and Cedric Paquette due to suspension, Jonathan Drouin will play down the middle. He’ll centre a line with Mike Hoffman and Josh Anderson. He leads the team in points with seven in 10 games. Drouin was frustrated at practice yesterday trying to learn a new position in a new system.
Jonathan Drouin n'était vraiment pas de bonne humeur à l'entraînement de lundi midi… 😳 pic.twitter.com/aHIZHEL083
— Keven Mawn (@Mawnster1997) November 2, 2021
Jeff Petry is expected to be in the lineup. He missed practice yesterday but was on the ice for the optional skate this morning. Brendan Gallagher will be a gametime decision.
Here are how the Montreal Canadiens are expected to lineup tonight against Detroit
Evans – Suzuki – Toffoli
Hoffman – Drouin – Anderson
Lehkonen – Dvorak – Armia
Pezzetta – Brooks – Belzile
Chiarot – Petry
Kulak – Savard
Niku – Wideman
The Red Wings have gone 2-1-1 since getting torched by the Montreal Canadiens 6-1 at the Bell Centre Oct. 23rd. Detroit are ahead of the Leafs, Bruins, Senators and Habs in the Atlantic division with a record of 4-3-2.
The Canadiens will have to be on red alert defensively tonight. The Red Wings are a different team without joint top-scorer Tyler Bertuzzi in the lineup. He won’t play in Canada because he refuses to get the COVID vaccine. But Detroit still score an average of 3.22 goals per game, good for 11th in the league. The Habs on the other hand allow 3.40 goals per game, 29th in the league in that category.
The Red Wings seem to be empowering their young players at the same time the Canadiens appear to be abandoning theirs. And it’s working. Rookie winger Lucas Raymond, drafted fourth overall in the 2020 draft, is tied with Bertuzzi for the team lead in points with nine.
On the blueline, rookie defenceman Moritz Seider, drafted sixth overall in 2019, has points in five straight games and is tied for second on the team with eight. The German was also just named the NHL’s rookie of the month.
The positive for the Canadiens is that they won’t have to face Detroit captain Dylan Larkin tonight. He won’t play due to personal reasons.
Good to be back home again
Kirkland native Joe Veleno will play his first game back in his hometown in front of family and friends. Veleno was called-up by the Red Wings before their loss against the Maple Leafs on Saturday from Grand Rapids. He had an unlikely companion on his travels to Toronto as he hitched a ride with general manager Steve Yzerman.
“I was a little bit shy. I really didn’t know what to talk about,” Veleno said. “I’m glad he made up most of the conversation. Once I got to spend a little time with him in the car, I got a little bit more comfortable. He’s a really good person and real easy to talk to. It made the drive fairly easy. It means a lot to drive with Steve Yzerman. I guess I have a story I can tell in the future.”
Maybe he’ll have to ride with the GM to a couple more games. Veleno picked up a goal and an assist in the loss.
Here’s are the Detroit Red Wings expected lines ahead of tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens per Puckpedia
Fabbri – Rasmussen – Raymond
Zadina – Suter – Erne
Namestnikov – Veleno – Gagner
Smith – Stephens – Rowney
Dekeyser – Seider
Leddy – Hronek
Staal – Oesterle
- Canadiens forward Mike Hoffman has four goals in five games. His next point will be his 400th in the NHL
- Moritz Seider can tie the Reed Larson for the longest points streak by a rookie defenceman in franchise history with a point tonight