The Montreal Canadiens (20-21-8) are set to play the Washington Capitals (22-18-7) at the Capital One Arena. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm ET.
Canadiens head coach Martin St-Louis is tasked with building a lineup without forward Sean Monahan, a rather difficult challenge given the lack of depth throughout the lineup.
St-Louis is also without Brendan Gallagher, who is currently serving a five-game suspension for his ugly hit on New York Islanders defenceman Adam Pelech.
On Monday morning St-Louis re-united Juraj Slafkovsky with Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki on the top line, a combination that has yielded very encouraging results in the past. Jake Evans was promoted to the top line, between Tanner Pearson and Jesse Ylonen. The third line was held together by Brandon Gignac, who recently signed a two-year, two-way contract due to his excellent play in the AHL for the Laval Rocket.
Defenceman Arber Xhekaj will return to the lineup, while Jordan Harris watches the game from the press box as a healthy scratch. Goaltender Samuel Montembeault will be given the start versus the Capitals.
The game against Washington represents the start of the end for the Habs, as they will enter the most difficult stretch of their schedule. It won’t be easy, especially if they lose more talent via trades, but at the very least it will provide the many struggling forwards in the lineup an opportunity to find their rhythm.
As for the Capitals, they’re also icing a lineup that is far from ideal, as evidenced by their lack of success in the standings. Star Alex Ovechkin has only managed to score nine goals this season, but if he’s scoring at a much lower pace, his 31 points leave him tied for the highest scorer in the lineup, alongside Dylan Strome.
With five points in the last five games, Strome is also the player to watch when discussing forwards who need to be kept at bay. In addition, defenceman John Carlson has four points in the last five outings.
There will be some familiar faces at the other side of the rank, as the Capitals feature three former Canadiens players in the lineup; Max Pacioretty, Joel Edmundson, and Charlie Lindgren.
Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov will not be in the lineup as he has entered the NHL/NHLPA’s player assistance program.
Montreal Canadiens Injuries
- Carey Price (IR)
- Chris Wideman (IR)
- Kirby Dach (out indefinitely, ACL/MCL)
- Alex Newhook (day-to-day)
- Christian Dvorak (out)
Washington Capitals Injuries
- Evgeny Kuznetsov (out)
- Max Pacioretty (day-to-day)
- Sonny Milano (IR)
- Nicklas Backstrom (IR)
Montreal Canadiens Projected Lineup
Washington Capitals Projected Lineup
Ovechkin – Strome – Wilson
Pacioretty – McMichael – Oshie
Aktell – Dowd – Protas
Malenstyn – Sgarbossa – Aube-Kubel
Fehervary – Carlson
Sandin – Van Riemsdyk
Edmundson – Jensen