The Montreal Canadiens will try and wrap up their five-game home stand with a win tonight against the upstart Calgary Flames.
The Habs have only picked up two of a possible 10 points during this stretch at the Bell Centre. But fans of the team will be focused on something other than just the scoreboard tonight.
Opportunity beckons for Poehling
The door remains firmly ajar for Montreal Canadiens centreman Ryan Poehling. Cedric Paquette, Adam Brooks and Mathieu Perreault have all struggled to nail down a spot down the middle for the team. With Paquette and Perreault out injured all Poehling needs to do is kick the door wide open, starting tonight against Calgary.
Despite an underwhelming training camp and a head injury a few games into his season with the Laval Rocket, the Habs 2016 first-round pick has played well down on the farm. He scored his third goal and sixth point of the season last night as the Rocket snapped their four-game losing streak with a 3-0 shutout win over the Belleville Senators.
Poehling appears to be a rather introspective guy, well aware of the reasons why things didn’t work out for him in camp a month ago. According to him, it was a case of overthinking what he thought the Habs wanted his game to look like.
“You try to acclimate yourself to a fourth line spot but in reality you can just go out and play your same game,” acknowledged Poehling after the morning skate. “I think that’s the biggest thing is just the reason why you’re here is what you did in Laval. I talked to the coaches…and they want to see me play offensively like I do in Laval. So I don’t want to come up here and kind of be hesitant and think ‘oh, I’m in a fourth line spot, this is what I have to do.’ I think it’s just don’t worry about it and play how you have been playing.”
In a bid to help the 22-year old get comfortable, head coach Dominique Ducharme will play him with two other Rocket regulars in Alex Belzile and Michael Pezzetta.
Jonathan Drouin will miss his fourth straight game with a head injury. Despite Ducharme saying he isn’t dealing with a concussion, the ongoing headaches he’s experiencing aren’t a great sign that he’ll be back in game shape anytime soon.
Christian Dvorak and Josh Anderson both missed practice yesterday but are expected to play tonight. Jake Allen will get the start in goal.
Here’s how the Montreal Canadiens are expected to line up against the Calgary Flames this evening.
Hoffman – Suzuki – Toffoli
Anderson – Dvorak – Gallagher
Lehkonen – Evans – Armia
Pezzetta – Poehling – Belzile
Chiarot – Petry
Kulak – Savard
Romanov – Wideman
A bad matchup for the Habs
Maybe it’s a good thing they didn’t land Jack Eichel.
The Calgary Flames seem to have all of the ingredients to make life particularly miserable for the Montreal Canadiens this evening.
The 7-1-2 Flames appear to have a team in the image of their coach Darryl Sutter. Calgary signed forward Blake Coleman in the summer to add even more toughness and grit to go along with Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane.
In the skill department, Elias Lindholm and Johhny Gaudreau co-lead the team in points with 14 in 12 games. After a slow start that saw him spend some time on the fourth line, even Sean Monahan is rounding into form with three points in his last five games.
Speaking of toughness, the Calgary blueline can leave you battered and bruised in front of the net. People movers Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov and Erik Gudbranson can bring the pain while Noah Hanifin, Oliver Kylington and Rasmus Andersson are all above-average skaters and puck movers.
And if you get through that mass of humanity, there is one of the best goalies in the league in 6’6 behemoth Jacob Markstrom. It’s early days but he appears to be in Vezina trophy nominee mode with a goals-against average of 1.69 and a .940 save percentage. That is ridiculously good, no matter the sample size.
Perhaps the most obvious and telling stat of all: the Montreal Canadiens score less goals per game than the Flames allow per game. The Habs are second in the worst in the league, scoring on average just two goals each contest. Meanwhile, Calgary are the second stingiest team in the NHL averaging just 2.17 goals against.
Here’s how the Calgary Flames are expected to line up against the Montreal Canadiens tonight per Puckpedia
Gaudreau – Lindholm – Tkachuk
Coleman – Monahan – Mangiapane
Dube – Backlund – Lewis
Lucic – Richardson – Pitlick
Hanifin – Andersson
Kylington – Tanev
Zadorov – Gudbranson
- In 128 games between the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames, the Habs have a winning record of 67-44-15-2
- In the Canadian division last year, the Flames won six of nine meetings against the Canadiens
- Calgary are 7-0-0 against Eastern Conference opponents so far this season; they’ve also won five straight road games. It’s their longest road winning streak since 2016-17
- Johnny Gaudreau (508) is one point away from catching Mark Giordano (509) for eighth on the franchise’s all-time scoring list
- Sean Monahan (444) can make some history of his own; he’s just one point away from catching Paul Reinhart (445) for 12th most in franchise history