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Canadiens Pre Game

Canadiens Game 54: Gallagher Returns, Ylonen Healthy Scratch



Montreal Canadiens vs New York Rangers

The Montreal Canadiens (22-23-8) will face the New York Rangers (34-16-3) on Thursday at the most famous arena on earth, Madison Square Gardens. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm ET.

The Habs are coming off one of their most impressive outings of the season, a nearly perfect 5-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Of course, beating the Ducks is nothing to write home about, but putting together a dominant performance will do a lot of good for the locker room as the team enters the stretch of the 2023-24 NHL schedule.

Juraj Slafkovsky continues to be one of the team’s best forwards. His presence on the top line did not just improve his own scoring pace. It also improved the underlying numbers produced by Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield, to the point that you can safely suggest their production is sustainable.

Establishing a solid top line in the NHL is very difficult to do, and even if that’s the only good thing that comes from this season it would still be a very important step for the rebuild.

MUST READ: Canadiens Analysis: Slafkovsky Development Since Usage Change

Slafkovsky is not the only one having fun lately. Suzuki is currently enjoying one of his hottest scoring stretches since he entered the league. It helps that he finally has two talented players on his line, as the quality of teammates is the most important aspect of any line combination, but his impact goes beyond earning 14 points in the last eight games.

He’s producing the type of defensive numbers that could lead to Selke votes. Don’t expect him to take home the trophy, but it’s certainly an encouraging sign as Suzuki enters his prime years.

Suzuki was absent from practice on Wednesday, however, all signs point to it being a preventative measure rather than a lingering injury.

Brendan Gallagher has served his five-game suspension following an ugly hit on New York Islanders defenceman Adam Pelech and will return to the lineup. Forward Jesse Ylonen will watch the game from the press box.

Samuel Montembeault will be the starting goaltender against the Rangers. You’ll remember that Montembeault made a jaw-dropping save the last time these two teams met, but he’ll need a little help from his friends if the Canadiens are to once again secure a win against one of the top teams in the league.

The Rangers aren’t just sitting atop the Metropolitan Divison standings, they’re also in the middle of a five-game winning streak.

Their special teams both rank in the top 5 among NHL teams, and they’re a top 10 team when it comes to how many goals they allow per game. The only area of their game that isn’t elite would be their goal production, which is mid-pack compared to other NHL clubs.

On that note, there are still plenty of talented forwards the Canadiens will have to monitor closely.

The most obvious is Artemi Panarin with his 31 goals and 37 assists. If we remove every goal he scored this year, he’d still rank third among Habs forwards in points. In addition to Panarin, players like Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Adam Fox, Vincent Trochek, and even Alexis Lafreniere all have the ability to break a game wide open with their scoring touch.

Montreal Canadiens Injuries

  • Carey Price (IR)
  • Chris Wideman (IR)
  • Kirby Dach (out indefinitely, ACL/MCL)
  • Rafael Harvey-Pinard (4-6 weeks)
  • Christian Dvorak (out)
  • Jordan Harris (out)

New York Rangers Injuries

  • Filip Chytil (IR)
  • Ben Harpur (out)

Montreal Canadiens Projected Lineup

Cole CaufieldNick SuzukiJuraj Slafkovsky
Brendan GallagherAlex NewhookJoel Armia
Jesse YlonenJake EvansJosh Anderson
Michael PezzettaChristian DvorakRafael Harvey-Pinard
Mike MathesonJustin Barron
Lane HutsonDavid Savard
Jordan HarrisLogan Mailloux
Samuel Montembeault
Cayden Primeau

New York Rangers Projected Lineup

Kreider – Zibanejad – Wheeler

Panarin – Trochek – Lafreniere

Cuylle – Brodzinski – Kakko

Vesey – Goodrow – Edstrom


Lindgren – Fox

Miller – Trouba

Gustafsson – Schneider




How to Watch Or Listen




Montreal Candiens: TSN 690