The Montreal Canadiens (10-10-2) are at the Bell Centre to face the Florida Panthers (13-7-2) on Thursday. The puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET.
The Habs had yet another questionable start on Wednesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, but they rallied to win 4-2 thanks to goals from Alex Newhook, Cole Caufield, Joel Armia, and Gustav Lindstrom.
Armia, in particular, had a great outing and is currently approaching a 69 percent xGF% in his seven games this season. Of course, we shouldn’t expect sustained offence in his case, but it should be said that he’s played well in the NHL, and he took his demotions to the AHL like an absolute pro.
We also need to send some praise Juraj Slafkovsky’s way.
The youngest player in the lineup had yet another strong outing. You could easily argue he’s been the team’s best forward, if not their best player during the five-game road trip.
He’s playing with much more confidence, and he’s driving the play rather than reacting to it. His breakout pass that led to Cole Caufield’s goal against the Blue Jackets was a good example of Slafkovsky evolving in the defensive zone.
Cayden Primeau will start for the Habs, his fifth start of the year. His .898 save percentage isn’t great, but we also have to admit he faced some difficult teams in that stretch, teams that made the Habs defence look like it was participating in a Timbits ‘learn to play hockey’ session.
As for the Florida Panthers, they’re playing well, but are coming off a 2-1 shootout loss versus the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. They also participated in a rough-and-tumble game against the Ottawa Senators on Monday, which saw the referee send all the players on the ice to their rooms. In my 30+ years of watching hockey, I had never seen a referee hand out 10-minute misconducts to every player on the ice, but I have to say it’s a very effective strategy.
"And then every player on the ice has a 10-minute misconduct" 😂🔊 pic.twitter.com/K3M78EdO29
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) November 28, 2023
It’s not overly surprising those two teams lost their cool. Canadiens fans know all too well that their most difficult physical matchups occur against the Senators and the Panthers, with the latter often crossing the line with questionable plays.
Sam Reinhart currently leads the Panthers in scoring with an impressive 15 goals and 12 assists in 22 games, but he’s not the only Panthers player who is enjoying a solid season from an offensive standpoint.
Matthew Tkachuk (3 goals, 15 assists) Alexander Barkov (6 goals, 14 assists), and Carter Verhaeghe (9 goals, 7 assists) have all provided an important source of scoring for Paul Maurice’s team.
If you’d like to get the view from the other side of the rink don’t forget to check out our sister site, Florida Hockey Now.
Montreal Canadiens Injuries
- David Savard (out 6-8 weeks)
- Carey Price (IR)
- Chris Wideman (IR)
- Kirby Dach (out indefinitely, ACL/MCL)
- Arber Xhekaj (IR)
- Rafael Harvey-Pinard (IR)
- Jordan Harris (out indefinitely)
Florida Panthers Injuries
- Joshua Mahura (IR)
Montreal Canadiens Projected Lineup
Florida Panthers Projected Lineup
Rodrigues – Barkov – Reinhart
Verhaeghe – Bennett – Tkachuk
Luostarinen – Lundell – Cousins
Gadjovich – Stenlund – Lomberg
Forsling – Ekblad
Mikkola – Montour
Ekman-Larsson – Kulikov