Oh hey, the Montreal Canadiens play a hockey game tonight!
Has anything else been going on?
Lost in the shuffle of the firing of Marc Bergevin and Trevor Timmins on Sunday and the subsequent hiring of Jeff Gorton as VP of hockey operations is that the Habs can win back-to-back games for the first time this season.
For the umpteenth time.
The Canadiens halted the Penguins five-game winning streak on Saturday night and take on the Vancouver Canucks tonight.
In a matchup of two of the most dysfunctional teams in hockey. Certainly in this country.
But the Canucks continue to be stuck in limbo as their fanbase continues to call for an end to the Jim Benning era. The Habs on the other hand bit the bullet yesterday after the worst start in franchise history.
New man almost in town
Owner Geoff Molson met the media today in Brossard to discuss the firing of Bergevin and the hiring of Gorton. Gorton will split duties running the hockey operations department with the next general manager, who will be bilingual. But Molson spoke glowingly about Gorton’s reputation around the league after the successful job he did in New York.
“I think when you do your research on Jeff Gorton,” said the Habs owner, “you find that he has a very good reputation not only as a person but as a general manager and as somebody who can build relationships. When I met with him I was thoroughly impressed and when I talked to other people in my circle about him, there were nothing but positive things to say about him. So I think we’re all going to really like to have him here. It’ll be a breath of fresh air.”
It’s positive to know that Molson doesn’t have Rangers owner James Dolan in his circle.
Gorton is expected to arrive in Montreal over the next couple of days. Whether his message or directives for the club will precede him remains unclear.
Based on Gorton’s track record in New York, he will likely capitalize on the team’s lost season to offload veterans and big contracts before the trade deadline. Which means you would likely see the Habs play their youngsters and prospects the rest of the way.
But Gorton wasn’t head coach Dominique Ducharme’s boss on Saturday night. And it showed in the allocation of ice-time to young players despite the victory. Only Cole Caufield played more than 10 minutes against Pittsburgh. But just a shade over at 10:46. Mattias Norlinder played 9:50 while Ryan Poehling played just 7:07. Perhaps that will change as early as tonight.
At practice earlier today Mathieu Perreault returned from his eye injury. Brett Kulak was back at practice but in a non-contact jersey while Chris Wideman and Mike Hoffman skated after practice as they recover from their respective injuries.
Goaltender Carey Price was also on the ice. Albeit without pads or gear on. The Habs goalie did some light skating drills as he continues to work his way back from off-season knee surgery.
Carey Price sur la patinoire ce matin pic.twitter.com/kc0jtlFbKK
— Luc Gelinas (@LucGelinasRDS) November 29, 2021
Here’s how the Montreal Canadiens are expected to line up against the Vancouver Canucks tonight at the Bell Centre
Artturi Lehkonen – Nick Suzuki – Cole Caufield
Tyler Toffoli – Christian Dvorak – Josh Anderson
Jonathan Drouin – Jake Evans – Brendan Gallagher
Michael Pezzetta – Ryan Poehling – Joel Armia
Ben Chiarot – Jeff Petry
Alexander Romanov – David Savard
Mattias Norlinder – Sami Niku
Will the Canucks clean house?
It took 23 games of futile hockey for the Montreal Canadiens to hand out the pink slips.
How long will it take for the Vancouver Canucks to do the same.
Owner Francesco Aquilini recently made waves by traveling with the team on a road trip. The Canucks are one of the few teams who have actually been playing worse hockey than the Habs of late. Vancouver are 1-8-1 over their last 10 and have lost four straight.
But more importantly the organization has stagnated under general manager Jim Benning. #FireBenning trends on Twitter every night.
Take Elias Petersson. He’s in the first year of a three-year, $22.05 million dollar contract and has been lost out on the ice all season. His ice-time has been cut repeatedly by head coach Travis Green and he has just 10 points in 22 games this season. He has been a point-a-game player his first three years in the league but is now mired in a four-game scoring drought.
And it seems like the players aren’t exactly getting Green’s message at the moment.
Some confusion setting up a drill at #Canucks practice, as Travis Green discussed it at length with Boeser.
Appears to be a straightforward 2-on-0 drill, but the wrong mix of players was in various ends.
J.T. Miller could be heard yelling, “We don’t know what we’re doing!”
— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) November 25, 2021
Ya. Not great. Although Miler tried to clear up that he was talking about a specific drill and not the team as a whole, it does encapsulate what Vancouver as an organization are right now.
The Canucks are one of the few teams in the league who actually compare statistically to the Montreal Canadiens. And not in a good way. The two teams are both neck and neck when it comes it comes to futility in the goals for and goals against per game departments this season. Vancouver have the NHL’s worst penalty kill while the Habs are just a fraction better in 29th position. The Canucks allowed two power play goals against in the third period last night, losing to the Boston Bruins 3-2.
“When things are going well you find ways to win,” said Green after their loss last night. “I feel like our team, they’re playing hard. They want to win badly. You can feel the disappointment at the end of the game and it’s unfortunate we’e played some good hockey here and haven’t got the results we want.”
The Canucks do appear to be ripe for the taking tonight. On the second night of a back-to-back and with their confidence at rock bottom.
Here’s how the Vancouver Canucks are expected to line up tonight against the Montreal Canadiens per Puckpedia
Tanner Pearson – Bo Horvat – Conor Garland
Nils Hoglander – J.T. Miller – Brock Boeser
Justin Dowling – Elias Petersson – Vasily Podkolzin
Tyler Motte – Jason Dickinson – Alex Chiasson
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Tyler Myers
Quinn Hughes – Luke Schenn
Kyle Burroughs – Tucker Poolman
It happens tonight. The Montreal Canadiens win consecutive games for the first time this season. The Canadiens have just removed the weight of nine years of Marc Bergevin off their shoulders while the Canucks continue to wander in no man’s land. Take the Habs -1.5 for a 2.95 payout at spreads.ca.
- Canucks killer: Perhaps facing his old team against who he had so much success last season is exactly what Tyler Toffoli needs. He has 21 goals and 34 points in 36 games against Vancouver.
- Bad news for Nick Suzuki. Bo Horvat is one of the best faceoff men in the game. He leads all skaters in faceoffs taken, faceoff wins and even strength faceoff wins.