The Montreal Canadiens (19-23-3) host the Florida Panthers (21-20-5) at the Bell Centre on Thursday night. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 PM ET.
With the home team all but eliminated from the playoffs, few regular season games will matter as much as the ninth game of the month, seeing as Florida traded their 2023 first-round pick to the Canadiens along with Ty Smilanic and a 2022 fourth-round pick (Cedrick Guindon) for the opportunity to add defenceman Ben Chiarot to their roster for 30 games.
The trade may backfire further, given the disappointing results from the Panthers through the first half of the season.
However, Canadiens fans probably shouldn’t hold their breath when it comes to the possibility of having 2 first-round picks in the top 10 of the 2023 Draft, seeing as the underlying numbers suggest the Panthers are due for an uptick in results.
For that to happen, they’ll need production from their star centre, Aleksander Barkov, who has found his rhythm in the recent stretch of the schedule, with seven points in his last five games.
The last time these two met the Panthers blew the Canadiens out of the water, putting together a dominating effort that led to a 7-2 win.
Fresh of one of their best performances of the year, which resulted in an impressive 4-1 win over the surging Winnipeg Jets, the Canadiens will look to build upon their momentum while facing significant adversity due to the recent string of injuries that left the team with a bare bones roster.
Head coach Martin St-Louis will once again depend upon 21-year-old centre Kirby Dach, who leads all Habs players with five points in five games, and has shown an ability to positively impact any line on which he’s used.
St-Louis will also lean heavily upon his best defenceman, Mike Matheson, a game-changing presence for a team that tends to struggle in transition. Not only does Matheson drive the play, he’s also the best Canadiens defenceman when it comes to quick puck retrievals, a key aspect of any team’s offence.
With Dach on the second line, the Habs will likely keep talented winger Jesse Ylonen alongside Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield in an attempt to build upon the chemistry they slowly, yet surely established against the Jets.
The Canadiens will once again ice a lineup featuring 7 defencemen and 11 forwards. There is a free solution available to their roster woes, although it remains to be seen if they are tempted by a recent addition to the waiver wire.
Samuel Montembeault is expected to start, but we are yet to receive confirmation from the head coach.
It’s worth noting, the Canadiens will take to the ice with their Retro Reverse jerseys. They are yet to earn a win this season while wearing the uninspired marketing threads.
Montreal Canadiens Injuries
- Kaiden Guhle (Injured Reserve)
- Brendan Gallagher (Injured Reserve)
- Joel Armia (Injured Reserve)
- Jake Evans (Injured Reserve)
- Juraj Slafkovsky (Injured Reserve)
- Sean Monahan (LTIR)
- Carey Price (LTIR)
- Paul Byron (LTIR)
Florida Panthers Injuries
- Anthony Duclair (IR)
- Patric Hornqvist (IR)
Montreal Canadiens Previous Lineup
|Josh Anderson||Nick Suzuki||Rem Pitlick|
|Mike Hoffman||Kirby Dach||Jesse Ylönen|
|Owen Beck||Christian Dvorak||Evgenii Dadonov|
|Micheal Pezzetta||Alex Belzile||Rafaël Harvey-Pinard|
|Mike Matheson||David Savard|
|Arber Xhekaj||Justin Barron|
|Jordan Harris||Johnathan Kovacevic|
Florida Panthers Projected Lineup
Lundell – Barkov – Reinhart
Verhaeghe – Bennett – Tkachuk
Denisenko – Luostarinen – Cousins
Lomberg – Staal -Smith
Forsling – Ekblad
Staal – Montour
Mahura – Gudas
|Team||PP %||PK %|
|Montreal Canadiens||15.1% (32nd)||73.6% (29th)|
|Ottawa Senators||26.2% (4th)||80.8% (12th)|