The surprising Montreal Canadiens (10-9-1) head to Illinois on Friday afternoon to face the struggling Chicago Blackhawks (6-10-3) at the United Centre. The puck drop is scheduled for 2 PM EST.
It will be a homecoming of sorts for 21-year-old forward Kirby Dach, who was unceremoniously shipped out of Chicago this summer as the team locked into a complete rebuild.
Before the trade, Dach had scored just 19 goals and 40 assists in 152 games, leaving him with a paltry 0.38 points per game, well below what you’d expect for a player that was chosen third overall at the 2019 Draft.
But Dach hasn’t just renewed his love for hockey since arriving in Montreal, he’s eclipsed his previous scoring pace by a significant margin.
In 20 games with the Canadiens, Dach has scored 4 goals and 13 assists, which has resulted in 0.85 points per game, more than twice his offensive output in Chicago.
With 17 points, Dach would currently be the leading scorer on his former team.
What’s more, Dach’s arrival on the top line coincided with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield enjoying some of their best games from both a production and statistical point of view.
Things can change, but for the time being, it appears the Canadiens have found their top line thanks to Dach’s affinity for maintaining control of the puck and generating clean entries into the offensive zone.
Chicago, on the other hand, has struggled to produce any semblance of consistent offence, finding the back of the net just 48 times in 19 games, the worst result in the entire league.
As per usual, Patrick Kane leads the charge, with 3 goals and 12 assists, followed by former Canadiens forward Max Domi, who has 5 goals and 9 assists with Chicago this season.
Finally, Jonathan Toews rounds out the top 3-3 with 13 points in 18 games and completes the list of Chicago players that have earned more than 10 points at the quarter mark of the season.
The game presents a perfect opportunity for the Canadiens to give a healthy dose of ice time to players trying to find their place in the NHL, like Juraj Slafkovsky, or veterans they hope will fetch a good return on the trade market, such as Evgenii Dadonov or Mike Hoffman.
- Jonathan Drouin (upper-body injury, 4-6 weeks)
- Carey Price (LTIR)
- Paul Byron (LTIR)
- Sam Lafferty (day-to-day)
- Tyler Johnson (IR)
- Alex Stalock (IR)
- Jalen Luypen (IR)
Montreal Canadiens Lines In Previous Game
|Josh Anderson||Nick Suzuki||Rem Pitlick|
|Mike Hoffman||Kirby Dach||Jesse Ylönen|
|Christian Dvorak||Evgenii Dadonov|
|Micheal Pezzetta||Alex Belzile||Rafaël Harvey-Pinard|
|Mike Matheson||David Savard|
|Arber Xhekaj||Justin Barron|
|Jordan Harris||Johnathan Kovacevic|
Chicago Projected Lineup
Athanasiou – Domi – Kane
Kurashev – Toews – Raddysh
Khaira – Dickinson – Blackwell
Entwistle – Lafferty – Johnson
Johnson – Jones
Tinordi – Murphy
McCabe – Jones
Special Teams[table “18” not found /]
- With 11 goals and 12 assists in 20 games, Nick Suzuki continues to lead the Canadiens in scoring.
- Cole Caufield has taken over as the team’s leading sniper, with 12 goals on the season.
- Jake Allen is expected to make the start for the Canadiens, but there’s no confirmation yet.