Connect with us

Canadiens Pre Game

Canadiens Game 57: Xhekaj On Fire, Roy Heating Up



Montreal Canadiens versus Pittsburgh Penguins

The Montreal Canadiens (22-26-8) will face the Pittsburgh Penguins (24-21-8) on Thursday night. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm ET.

The Canadiens are fresh off a hard-fought loss to the Buffalo Sabres at the Bell Centre, a game in which defenceman Arber Xhekaj stole the show with his physical play, his offensive prowess, and his underrated work in the defensive zone.

He may be known for his soul-stealing hits, but Xhekaj tends to finish games with the best underlying numbers of anyone who patrols the blue line.

The top line of Juraj Slafkovsky, Nick Suzuki, and Cole Caufield failed to register a point for the first time in a long time when the Habs faced the Sabres, but they did manage to control well over 70 percent of the shots and scoring chances.

However, the top line did not produce the best results. That honour belonged to the Joshua Roy, Alex Newhook, and Josh Anderson line. They were responsible for four of the seven high-danger chances the Canadiens produced at 5v5.

It’s a small sample size, but Roy leads the Canadiens in xGF% this season, with an impressive 60.9 percent.


Seeing as the Canadiens played last night, they will not hold a formal practice this morning. The healthy scratches are expected to hit the ice toward 11:30, with head coach Martin St-Louis addressing the media shortly afterward.

Montreal and Pittsburgh met in late January, resulting in a solid game from Kaiden Guhle and Slafkovsky, but the Penguins eventually emerged with a 3-2 overtime. They’ve only managed to win two of their seven games since then, pointing to the type of inconsistency that has plagued the once-great team all season.

But there is one player in the lineup who simply refuses to abide by the laws of nature, displaying the type of elite consistency you’d only expect to see from one of the best NHL players of all time. Sidney Crosby leads the Penguins in scoring with 55 points in 53 games, a rather impressive scoring pace for a 36-year-old forward.

Jake Guentzel has also been a reliable source of offence for the Penguins, with 22 goals and 30 assists. But there’s a significant gap between Guentzel and the rest of the roster, as Evgeni Malkin is third in team scoring with 42 points.

The matchup will also feature one of the worst penalty kills in the NHL (Montreal, 31st) and a shockingly bad powerplay (Pittsburgh, 30th).

What happens when a stopable force meets a movable object? Stay tuned!

If you’d like to get the view from the other side of the rink, don’t forget to check out our sister site Pittsburgh Hockey Now.

Montreal Canadiens Injuries

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

Pittsburgh Penguins Injuries

  • Matt Nieto (IR)
  • Noel Acciari (IR)

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


Pittsburgh Penguins Projected Lineup

Rakell – Crosby (doesn’t) Rust

O’Connor – Malkin – Phillips

Smith – Eller – Puustinen

Harkins – Carter – White


Joseph – Letang

Pettersson – Karlsson

Graves – Ruhwedel




How to Watch Or Listen


Sportsnet, RDS


Montreal Candiens: TSN 690