The Montreal Canadiens (16-17-5) will face the New York Rangers (26-10-1) at Bell Centre on Saturday. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm ET.
The Habs are coming off a rather frustrating 6-1 loss versus the Buffalo Sabres, a game in which the entire team had a very difficult time finding any semblance of consistency.
An impressive Joel Armia shorthanded goal had cut the lead to 2-1 midway through the second period, but the Sabres scored four consecutive goals in the fourth period to put the game out of reach.
It was the type of loss that saps morale, which means Saturday night’s game against the Rangers will be quite a challenge for Martin St-Louis’ troops.
As it stands, captain Nick Suzuki has been the most productive player in the last games, though he has only scored four goals. The Canadiens continue to struggle to generate sustainable offence.
But there may be some help on the way.
Forward Emil Heineman will play, and thus the Canadiens will no longer run with just 11 forwards and seven defencemen. Blueliner Johnathan Kovacevic will watch the game from the pressbox to make way for Heineman’s entry into the lineup.
— Priyanta Emrith (@HabsInHighHeels) January 6, 2024
We have not yet received confirmation of any updated lines but expected a few new trios due to Heineman’s presence.
Goaltender Samuel Montembeault will be given the start for the Habs, and though he’s looked great this season he will need some help from special teams.
Buffalo scored two identical powerplay goals on Thursday, pointing to a longstanding issue with the Canadiens’ penalty kill.
As for the Rangers, not only are they one of the top teams in the NHL, but they’re also sitting in first place in the Metropolitan Division.
They’ve won seven of their last 10 games thanks to an excellent balance of defence and offence throughout the lineup.
Artemi Panarin is having yet another great season and is leading the Blueshirts in scoring with an impressive 25 goals and 29 assists in just 37 games. He’s followed closely by a trio of forwards who all have more than 30 points this season: Mika Zibanejad, Vincent Trochchek, and Chris Kreider. Adam Fox is the most productive blueliner with three goals and 21 assists. And finally, Alexis Lafreniere has found his rhythm, to the tune of 10 goals and 13 assists.
Montreal Canadiens Injuries
- Carey Price (IR)
- Chris Wideman (IR)
- Kirby Dach (out indefinitely, ACL/MCL)
- Rafael Harvey-Pinard (IR)
- Alex Newhook (out 10-12 weeks)
- Tanner Pearson (IR)
- Christian Dvorak (out)
New York Rangers Injuries
- Kaapo Kakko (IR)
- Tyler Pitlick (out)
- Filip Chytil (IR)
- Ben Harpur (out)
Montreal Canadiens Projected Lineup
New York Rangers Projected Lineup
Kreider – Zibanejad – Wheeler
Panarin – Trocheck – Lafreniere
Cuylle – Goodrow – Vesey
Othmann – Bonino – Brodzinski
Lindgren – Fox
Miller – Trouba
Gustafsson – Schneider