The Montreal Canadiens (20-27-4) return from their All-Star break to host the New York Islanders (23-23-3) at the Bell Centre on Saturday afternoon. The puck drop is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET.
It’s Superbowl weekend, and you know what that means! The annual back-to-back matinee games at the Bell Centre, just as the Montreal Canadiens return from their ten-day break following the All-Star weekend and their ensuing bye-week.
The Canadiens’ return game against the Islanders will be the final time this season that they’ll be sporting their Reverse Retro jerseys. The Canadiens have dropped every game they’ve played with the powder blue jerseys; a trend that has earned the jerseys the monicker of “Tank Tops”, as it has helped the Canadiens sink lower into the standings after each passing game.
Perhaps, in its final appearance this season, the Canadiens could change the narrative.
Now for some good news.
The Canadiens will finally be seeing some bodies coming out of the injury ward, as Jonathan Drouin is expected to play this afternoon. Drouin has been out since January 17 with an upper-body injury and was seen practicing on the fourth line alongside Micheal Pezzetta and Alex Belzile.
Should Drouin be ready to play, it will likely mean that the Canadiens will ice a traditional lineup with 12 forwards and six defencemen; meaning Chris Wideman, who was doing extra time at practice is likely to be scratched for today’s game.
The Canadiens will also be giving the nod to Samuel Montembeault, the winner of the Molson Cup for the month of January.
The 26-year-old goaltender was stellar for the Canadiens in relief of the injured Jake Allen last month, keeping the Canadiens in games where they were excessively outshot and outplayed.
So far this season, Montembeault has registered a .909 save percentage and a 3.19 goals-against average; despite having very little help from his teammates during most of those outings.
Racing Down The Ilse
The New York Islanders roll into Montreal with some extra momentum, mainly due to the acquisition and contract extension of top centre, Bo Horvat.
The Islanders were teetering on the edge of falling out of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference after a very strong start to the season, and the arrival of Horvat has given them exactly that.
Forming instant chemistry on the top line with Mat Barzal, the newest member of the Islanders has wasted no time getting to work.
Horvat has put up two goals and an assist in three games with the Islanders so far and has been a force for them on both ends of the ice.
The biggest test for the Canadiens will be Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin, who is putting up another stellar season again this year.
The backbone of his team, Sorokin has put up some Vezina-calibre numbers so far this year; sporting a sparkling 0.923 save percentage and a 2.41 goals-against average.
Sorokin is the main reason the Islanders remain in the playoff hunt at the moment, as his stellar play has kept New York in almost every game this season; they just haven’t produced the offence to support him.
With every game now being a must-win for the Islanders, you can expect them to be ready for this game; as they look to keep pace with the Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers for the final two Wild Card spots in the Eastern Conference.
Montreal Canadiens Injuries
- Kaiden Guhle (Injured Reserve)
- Joel Edmundson (Day-to-Day)
- Brendan Gallagher (Injured Reserve)
- Joel Armia (Injured Reserve)
- Jake Evans (Injured Reserve)
- Juraj Slafkovsky (Injured Reserve)
- Cole Caufield (Injured Reserve)
- Sean Monahan (LTIR)
- Carey Price (LTIR)
- Paul Byron (LTIR)
New York Islanders Injuries
- Oliver Wahlstrom (Injured Reserve)
- Cal Clutterbuck (Injured Reserve)
- Alexander Romanov (Personal)
Montreal Canadiens Previous Lineup
|Cole Caufield||Nick Suzuki||Juraj Slafkovsky|
|Jake Evans||Sean Monahan||Josh Anderson|
|Tanner Pearson||Christian Dvorak||Brendan Gallagher|
|Joel ARmia||Mitchell Stephens||Jesse Ylonen|
|Mike Matheson||Gustav Lindstrom|
|Kaiden Guhle||Justin Barron|
|Jayden Struble||Johnathan Kovacevic|
New York Islanders Projected Lineup
|Team||PP %||PK %|
|Montreal Canadiens||16.3% (28th)||72.1% (29th)|
|Boston Bruins||22.7% (11th)||87.1% (1st)|