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Canadiens Pre Game

Game 37: Canadiens Shuffle Pairings Due To Guhle’s Injury

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Canadiens vs Capitals

The slumping Montreal Canadiens (15-18-3) face the surging Washington Capitals (20-13-5) on Saturday afternoon, in the last game of the calendar year. The puck drop is scheduled for 4 PM ET.

As has been the case over the course of the last two decades, Alex Ovechkin is the talk of the town.

He’s already scored 23 goals in 39 games and is rapidly approaching Wayne Gretzky‘s all-time goal-scoring record, an impressive feat given he missed an unreasonable amount of games due to NHL lockouts.

Ovechkin loves playing against the Canadiens, as evidenced by his 34 goals in 53 games, taking over 230 shots in the process. 11 of his goals have come on the power play, whereas 23 of them were scored at even-strength.

As it stands, Ovechkin is far and away the Capitals’ best player, with a 12-point lead over his teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov, who has six goals and 24 assists in 37 games.

Former Canadiens defenceman Erik Gustafsson leads the blueline with five goals and 15 assists, including seven points in his last five games.

Habs Angle

While the Capitals surge, with just one regulation loss in their last 10 games, the Canadiens have taken a significant nosedive toward the bottom of the standings in December.

It should lead to a very good Draft pick next summer, but in the meantime, the Canadiens have the most difficult strength of schedule in the NHL, and they’re currently producing the second-worst underlying numbers as well.

Things became a little more difficult when the Canadiens announced rookie defenceman Kaiden Guhle was not at practice, and would not participate in the New Year’s eve matchup.

With that in mind, head coach Martin St-Louis was forced to modify his defensive pairings, adding Chris Wideman to the mix on the third pairing.

Thanks to some excellent play during a difficult stretch, Arber Xhekaj has been the Canadiens’ best point producer recently, with four points in five games.

Jake Allen is expected to start.

Montreal Canadiens Injuries

  • Kaiden Guhle (N/A)
  • Mike Matheson (indefinitely)
  • Sean Monahan (2 weeks)
  • David Savard (day-to-day)
  • Carey Price (LTIR)
  • Paul Byron (LTIR)

Washington Capitals Injuries

  • T.J. Oshie (day-to-day)
  • Tom Wilson (IR)
  • Carl Hagelin (IR)
  • Nicklas Backstrom (IR)
  • John Carlsson (IR)
  • Connor Brown (IR)

Montreal Canadiens Projected Lineup

LWCRW
Josh AndersonNick SuzukiRem Pitlick
Mike HoffmanKirby DachJesse Ylönen
Owen BeckChristian DvorakEvgenii Dadonov
Micheal PezzettaAlex BelzileRafaël Harvey-Pinard
LDRD
Mike MathesonDavid Savard
Arber XhekajJustin Barron
Jordan HarrisJohnathan Kovacevic
Goalie
Jake Allen
Samuel Montembeault

Washington Capitals Projected Roster

Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Sheary

Milano – Strom – Mantha

Johansson – Eller – Aube-Kubel

Protas – Down – Hathaway

Defence:

Gustafsson – Van Riemsdyk

Orlov – Jensen

Fehervary – Irwin

Kuemper

Lindgren

Special Teams

TeamPP %PK %
Montreal Canadiens 15.1% (32nd)73.6% (29th)
Ottawa Senators26.2% (4th)80.8% (12th)

Game Notes:

  • Nick Suzuki continues to lead the Canadiens in scoring with 15 goals and 16 assists, but he has been held scoreless in the last five games.
  • Unsurprisingly, the slump has extended to his linemate, Cole Caufield, who has just one goal in his last five outings.

How to Watch Or Listen

TV

TVAS, SN, NBCWA

Radio

Montreal Canadiens: TSN 69098,5FM

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Jabbers99

Is that like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic? This team blows. If Martin St. Louis wants to help his team win he should strap on some skates and get out from behind the bench and on to the ice.

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