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Canadiens Game 33: Habs First Line Aims To Maintain Momentum

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Montreal Canadiens vs Blackhawks

The Montreal Canadiens (14-13-5) face the Chicago Blackhawks (10-20-1) at the United Centre on Friday night. The puck drop is scheduled for 8:30 pm ET.

The Habs are coming off a hard-fought overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, a game in which the top line excelled.

Juraj Slafkovsky, Nick Suzuki, and Cole Caufield controlled over 75 percent of the shots and expected goals while they were on the ice. It was yet another encouraging sign for the line, which is displaying budding chemistry.

However, all top lines must contribute as a primary source of offence, and that was certainly not the case for the Canadiens.

Until Thursday.

Suzuki scored a powerplay goal, whereas Slafkovsky enjoyed a two-point game, which included his third goal of the season. It’s much too early to suggest they have what it takes to become a dominant combination, but it does seem like their strong process has started to yield positive results.

While the top line played well, the rest of the lineup struggled mightily against the Wild. The discrepancy in shot control was impossible to ignore given that the second, third, and fourth lines managed to control fewer than 33 percent of the shots whenever they took to the ice.

For the Habs to become a competitive team they will need more than just one functioning line, but such is life amid a rebuild.

MUST READ: Slafkovsky, Caufield, & Suzuki Shines In Loss To Wild

While the Habs are playing the second leg of back-to-back games, the Blackhawks will be rested. They’re coming off a 3-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, only their 10th win of the season.

Phenom Connor Bedard is off to a great start to his NHL career. The 18-year-old centre leads Chicago in scoring with 12 goals and 16 assists in 31 games. That’s 11 points more than his closest teammate, Philipp Kurashev, who has six goals and 11 assists in 24 games this season.

The game presents a perfect opportunity for the Canadiens to finish their pre-holiday schedule on a high note. Goaltender Cayden Primeau will be guarding the net for the Habs.

Montreal Canadiens Injuries

  • Carey Price (IR)
  • Chris Wideman (IR)
  • Kirby Dach (out indefinitely, ACL/MCL)
  • Rafael Harvey-Pinard (IR)
  • Jordan Harris (10-14 days)
  • Alex Newhook (out 10-12 weeks)
  • Tanner Pearson (IR)

Chicago Blackhawks Injuries

  • Jarred Tinordi (day-to-day)
  • Alex Vlasic (day-to-day)
  • Seth Jones (IR)
  • Joey Anderson (IR)
  • Andreas Athanasiou (IR)
  • Taylor Hall (IR)
  • Luke Philp (IR)
  • Samuel Savoie (IR)

Montreal Canadiens Projected Lineup

LWCRW
Cole CaufieldNick SuzukiJuraj Slafkovsky
Joshua RoyAlex NewhookJosh Anderson
Tanner PearsonJake EvansJoel Armia
Jesse YlonenBrandon GignacBrendan Gallagher
LDRD
Mike MathesonKaiden Guhle
Jayden StrubleJordan Harris
Arber XhekajDavid Savard
Goalie
Jake Allen
Cayden Primeau

 

Chicago Blackhawks Lineup

Reichel – Bedard – Donato

Kurashev – Johnson – Raddysh

Foligno – Dickinson – Blackwell

Beauvillier – Entwistle – Johnson

Defence

Phillips – Murphy

Tinordi – Crevier

Korchinski – Zaitsev

Goalie

Mrazek

 

How to Watch Or Listen

TV

RDS, TSN2

Radio

Montreal Candiens: TSN 690