The Montreal Canadiens (19-24-3) get ready for a Saturday night classic against the Toronto Maple Leafs (28-11-7) at the Bell Centre. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 PM ET.
The Canadiens received their age-old rivals on a Saturday night; you can’t ask for a better setting for a hockey game in Canada.
Right before tonight’s game, the Canadiens were dealt a massive blow, when it was announced that Cole Caufield suffered a season-ending injury to his right shoulder that will require him to undergo surgery to repair.
In 46 games, the diminutive sniper put up an impressive 26 goals and ten assists for 36 points in just 46 games.
At his current pace, Caufield was on pace to not only hit the 40-goal plateau, but also flirt with the notion of hitting 50 goals.
He was an instrumental part of the Montreal Canadiens’ offence, accounting for 26 of Montreal’s 122 goals this season; a staggering 21% of the team’s offence.
The Canadiens then announced that they had recalled forward Alex Belzile from the Laval Rocket. Belzile has had a solid season for the Canadiens’ AHL Affiliate, putting up 13 goals and 12 assists for 25 points in 29 games this year.
Kirby Dach is coming into this game red-hot, accounting for five points in his last five games; most of which playing a second-line centre role for the Canadiens.
The towering centre has seen an uptick in his play in returning to his natural position, and, due to the Canadiens running an 11-7 formation, has made his ever-changing cast of linemates look good on almost every shift.
Josh Anderson has also begun to step up in the face of all the injuries the Canadiens are facing, potting five goals in his last 10 games, putting him on pace to hit 23 goals this season.
Nick Suzuki is another player who’s seen an uptick in his play of late, after a very quiet month of December.
The Canadiens captain has one goal and four assists for five points in his last seven games, and, in face of injuries to Sean Monahan and Jake Evans, has seen a significant increase in his responsibilities; routinely playing an average of 22 minutes a night.
Samuel Montembeault, who has been the backbone of the Canadiens since returning from their December road trip, has been the biggest reason the Canadiens have kept pace with their opponents this month.
The 26-year-old is playing some of the best hockey of his career, and unfortunately isn’t getting much support; especially in the Canadiens’ last game against the Florida Panthers.
Despite allowing five goals against the Panthers on Thursday night, Montembeault still sports a sparkling 0.930 save percentage over his last six games since assuming No. goaltender duties and will be instrumental in keeping the Canadiens in this game tonight.
The Canadiens will have their hands full, as the Maple Leafs have been rolling as of late, winning five of their last seven games thanks to the efforts of their top players.
Mitch Marner is having another tremendous season for Toronto yet again, leading his team in assists (38) and points (55) through 46 games this season.
He comes into tonight’s game having amassed six points in his last five games, all while playing a sound, two-way game.
Meanwhile, after an uncharacteristically slow start, Auston Matthews has also got his production going; scoring four goals in his last four games and back in range of the 50-goal plateau.
The true test for Toronto will be between the pipes, as the goaltending duo of Ilya Samsonov and Matt Murray have been hot and cold at times.
Despite the two goaltenders having .920 and 9.11 save percentages respectively, their play has been inconsistent in the sense that, if they aren’t playing on their heads, they’re letting in a high amount of goals.
The Maple Leafs have lots of time to figure it out, and have seen some progress as of late, but the consistency of their goaltending will be what make or breaks their year, especially in the spring.
Montreal Canadiens Injuries
- Kaiden Guhle (Injured Reserve)
- Brendan Gallagher (Injured Reserve)
- Joel Armia (Injured Reserve)
- Jake Evans (Injured Reserve)
- Juraj Slafkovsky (Injured Reserve)
- Jonathan Drouin (Injured Reserve)
- Cole Caufield (Injured Reserve)
- Sean Monahan (LTIR)
- Carey Price (LTIR)
- Paul Byron (LTIR)
Tronto Maple Leafs Injuries
- Jake Muzzin (Injured Reserve)
- Nicholas Robertson (Injured Reserve)
- T.J. Brodie (Injured Reserve)
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|
Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lineup
|Team||PP %||PK %|
|Montreal Canadiens||15.1% (32nd)||73.6% (29th)|
|Ottawa Senators||26.2% (4th)||80.8% (12th)|