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Gameday 18: Canadiens @ Rangers – Drouin returns, Primeau starts – Lines and Notes

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Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme must be looking forward to the day he doesn’t feel like a battlefield commander.

Who’s wounded, who’s healthy and how to deploy the troops that are available to him.

Yes, the injury bug continues to be a focal point for the Montreal Canadiens. Two more bodies are out of the lineup while one returns for tonight’s clash at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers.

Forward Mike Hoffman has been placed on injured reserve for at least a week with an upper-body injury. Replays from the Habs overtime win over the Red Wings show Hoffman getting crunched by Detroit defenceman Moritz Seider. You can judge whether the hit was a charge for yourselves. But Ducharme confirmed today that Hoffman did not suffer a concussion on the play.

 

Back on Broadway

Jonathan Drouin will return to the lineup tonight after missing six games with a head injury. He took some friendly fire off the head from Brett Kulak in the team’s game against he Red Wings Nov. 2nd. Ducharme said after the team’s loss against Boston that Drouin had received the green light from the medical staff and it would be up to him when he would return to game action.

“Last couple of days have been way better,” said Drouin this morning. “Like I said, I got that shot right on the temple so I had pressure in my head when I put my helmet on, headaches. There was no concussion, I passed my concussion tests that night. It (was) just trying to get the swelling down.”

The Drouin experiment at centre has been put on the back burner for the time being. With Jake Evans getting healthy and Ryan Poehling called up from Laval, Drouin will be back at left wing tonight next to Christian Dvorak and Josh Anderson. That line had success at the start of the year when the Habs were mired in their season-opening six-game losing streak.

Primeau in the present

Montreal Canadiens fans will get their first look of the season at their potential goaltender of the future Cayden Primeau tonight. The 2017 seventh-rounder will get the start in goal after an uneven performance by Samuel Montembeault in the loss against the Bruins on Sunday. Primeau’s record at the NHL level doesn’t jump off the page; 2-3-1 with a 3.55 goals-against average and a .885 save percentage. But he has played well with the Rocket this season, sporting a 4-4-0 record with a 2.41 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage.

Ducharme admitted that he doesn’t say much to goalies on game day because of the uniqueness of the position. But he did say that goaltending coach Eric Raymond and Primeau have a plan, “to simplify the game sometimes. To make sure you have a basic plan that you follow and apply to every action. Then it helps you build your game.”

The concussion spotters appear to have made the right decision by pulling Jake Allen from Saturday night’s game against Detroit. Allen was clattered into by Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin in the first period. According to Ducharme, Allen did suffer a concussion and that he will be re-evaluated daily. The Habs head coach said that the earliest the team’s goaltender could be back is Saturday against the Nashville Predators.

Here’s how the Montreal Canadiens are expected to line up tonight against the New York Rangers

Forwards

Tyler Toffoli – Nick Suzuki – Brendan Gallagher

Jonathan Drouin – Christian Dvorak – Josh Anderson

Artturi Lehkonen – Jake Evans – Joel Armia

Michael Pezzetta – Ryan Poehling – Alex Belzile

Defencemen

Ben Chiarot – Jeff Petry

Brett Kulak – David Savard

Alexander Romanov – Chris Wideman

Goalies

Cayden Primeau

Samuel Montembeault

Blueshirts lose Blais

The New York Rangers received some unfortunate injury news of their own this morning. Forward Sammy Blais will miss the rest of the regular season with a torn ACL. The Montmagny native was injured in the third period of New York’s shootout win over New Jersey on Sunday. The team re-called forward Greg McKegg from the Hartford Wolfpack of the AHL this morning.

Blais appears to have been slew-footed by former Hab P.K.Subban on the play. It’s at least the fourth time this season that Subban has been caught on video slew-footing an opponent. He was fined $15,000 dollars by the league for a similar action on Ducks forward Trevor Zegras after being fined $5,000 dollars by the league for doing the same to Flames forward Milan Lucic.

Keep Kreider contained

While Subban is one of the darlings of the Montreal Canadiens faithful, one of their most hated players has been making a mockery of the league’s goal-scoring race. Chris Kreider is tied for third in the NHL with 11 goals in 15 games played. He was playing on a line with Blais and Mika Zibanejad. Rangers head coach Gerrard Gallant told reporters today that Barclay Goodrow will replace Blais on that line tonight.

Kreider infamously fell into Habs goaltender Carey Price feet first in the 2014 Conference finals. The play knocked Price out of the series which New York won in six games.

The Rangers will get back centreman Filip Chytil tonight. He’s been out since Nov. 6th with an upper-body injury. The Blueshirts haven’t missed a beat without him though. They’re riding a three-game winning streak since he was hurt against the Flames.

The Canadiens got Shesterkin-ed in their 3-1 loss to New York on Oct. 16th. The Russian goaltender will be back between the pipes for the Rangers tonight. He has a record of 7-2-2 with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage this season.

Here’s how the New York Rangers are expected to line up against the Montreal Canadiens tonight per Puckpedia

Forwards

Chris Kreider – Mika Zibanejad – Barclay Goodrow

Artemi Panarin – Ryan Strome – Kappo Kaako

Alexis Lafreniere – Filip Chytil – Julien Gauthier

Dryden Hunt – Kevin Rooney – Ryan Reaves

Defencemen

Ryan Lindgren – Adam Fox

K’Andre Miller – Jacob Trouba

Patrik Nemeth – Nils Lundkvist

Goalies

Igor Shesterkin

Alexandar Georgiev

NOTES

  • 95 years ago today, the New York Rangers played their first game in franchise history. And as fate would have it, against a team out of Montreal. The Blueshirts beat the Montreal Maroons 1-0 courtesy of a second period goal by Bill Cook.
  • New York have picked up points in seven of their last eight games. They play their third game in four nights tonight against the Habs.
  • The Habs have the winning edge all-time with a record of 340-196-94-3 versus New York.
  • The Blueshirts have a record of 4-0-0 against Atlantic division opponents so far this season
  • Brendan Gallagher remains one goal behind Saku Koivu for 27th most in franchise history (191)
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Margie Ste croix

Great article

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