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Canadiens Pre Game

Habs Game 63: Canadiens Captain Nick Suzuki Is Flourishing



Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens (24-28-10) will be in Carolina on Thursday night to face the Hurricanes (36-19-6). The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm ET.

The Habs are coming off a well-deserved 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators, putting an end to Nashville’s impressive eight-game winning streak in the process.

As per usual, captain Nick Suzuki was key, scoring his 25th goal of the season to secure the win in overtime. The top line did not have its best game by any means, as they were on the ice for three goals against, but even when Suzuki struggles he makes more of a positive impact than most.

Juraj Slafkovsky had a particularly difficult game, as it was his man who scored on two occasions while the 19-year-old was caught out of position while defending. To his credit, he did improve his defensive awareness in the second half of the game. He even prevented yet another shorthanded goal against by getting on his horse and denying a breakaway opportunity.

On that note, the Canadiens will have to be a little more careful with the man advantage. Yes, their powerplay efficiency has improved slightly this season, but they’ve also allowed 11 shorthanded goals, far and away the worst result in the NHL. Last season the Canadiens allowed just three shorthanded goals, which meant they were the best team in the league when it came to preventing shorthanded goals.

Keep an eye out for rookie Joshua Roy. Not only did he score his second goal of the season against the Predators by stealing a puck, quickly driving it up the ice, and scoring with a great shot, but he did so against Roman Josi, a former Norris Trophy winner, and Juuse Saros, a Vezina Trophy finalist.

With that in mind, it’s not surprising Roy currently leads the Habs in expected goals, with 59.5 percent. This means when Roy is on the ice the Canadiens hold a significant advantage in shots, shot quality, scoring chances, and other important events.

His play, along with an excellent showing from Jordan Harris and Arber Xhekaj on the blueline, is one of the reasons the Canadiens are currently producing some of the best underlying numbers since Martin St-Louis took over.

MUST READ: Canadiens Analysis – How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Xhekaj

As for the Hurricanes, they continue to be one of the best teams in the league when it comes to controlling the important facets of the game. They’re 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, which means the Canadiens are in for yet another difficult game against a top opponent.

Canadiens legend Sebastian Aho leads the offensive charge, with four goals and three assists in his last 5 games. He also leads all Hurricanes forwards in total points this season, with 24 goals and 40 assists in 58 games.

But it’s not all sunshine and lollipops down south.

Former Hab Jesperi Kotkaniemi has hit a wall from an offensive standpoint. His analytics are great, but the results are yet to catch up to the process. He’s not a negative impact player by any means, but with just 10 goals and 11 assists in 61 games, it’s become clear that his potential is not as high as the Hurricanes originally expected.

Kotkaniemi has just one point in his last five games and has been relegated to a support role, as evidenced by his shrinking ice time and his current position as the team’s fourth-line centre.

Truth be told, he’s much better than most fourth-line centres, but as three different NHL executives told me, Kotakniemi’s potential is that of a very good third-line centre, and no more. That being said, he’s still just 23 years old, which means he still has a few prime years ahead of him.

Montreal Canadiens Injuries

  • Carey Price (IR)
  • Chris Wideman (IR)
  • Kirby Dach (out indefinitely, ACL/MCL)
  • Colin White (out)
  • Christian Dvorak (out)
  • Juraj Slafkovsky (day-to-day)

Carolina Hurricanes Injuries

  • Frederik Andersen (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


Carolina Hurricanes Projected Lineup

Svechnikov – Aho – Teravainen

Bunting – Drury – Necas

Martinook – Staal – Jarvis

Noesen – Kotkaniemi – Fast


Slavin – Burns

Skjei – Pesce

Orlov – Chatfield




How to Watch Or Listen




Montreal Canadiens: TSN 690