The Nashville Predators are in town Saturday night as the Montreal Canadiens continue their five game homestead. The match marks the first meeting between the clubs since November 12, 2011 when the Canadiens needed overtime in a 2-1 victory. The game can be watched on CBC and RDS at 7 p.m. EST.
With a 5-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, the Canadiens extended their win streak to four games. The Predators, who dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to the L.A. Kings on Thursday, will try to stifle the Canadiens with a stingy defensive game.
Montreal received some good news Thursday night concerning Max Pacioretty’s status. The injury he suffered against the Winnipeg Jets last Tuesday was revealed to be a strained hamstring that should only keep him out of the lineup for three weeks.
Habs enforcer George Parros skated for the first time since he suffered a concussion in the Habs’ season opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs. There is still no timetable for Parros’ return, but seeing him on ice is a good sign. Alexei Emelin (knee) and Douglas Murray (upper-body) also skated as they continue their rehab.
Defenceman P.K. Subban’s Norris Trophy winning play from last year has carried over into the new season. The 24-year-old leads the team in scoring with 10 points through seven games. Nashville’s top scorers are Mike Fisher and Craig Smith with five points each. Carey Price starts his seventh game of the season while Pekka Rinne gets the call for the Predators.
The game marks the first look Montreal will have at 19-year-old defenceman Seth Jones. Selected fourth overall at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Jones was considered a candidate to go first overall in the year leading up to the draft. When he was still available at Nashville’s turn to pick, they were thrilled to have him. While it was anticipated that Jones would be eased into the lineup, the 6’4 and 205lbs blueliner has averaged over 23 minutes a game. The Arlington, Texas native has one goal and two assists through seven matches.
Keys to Victory:
1) Break the Trap: For what the Nashville Predators lack in offensive scoring threats, they make up for with a sound defensive system guaranteed to slow the pace of the game. Montreal will need to use their speed to move through the neutral zone and get behind Nashville’s defence. It’s the type of game that will benefit the likes of Galchenyuk, Desharnais, and Briere. With Briere on the hot seat in Montreal, this may be as good a game as any to finally make his mark.
2) Avoid the Box: The Canadiens were guilty of taking too many penalties against the Blue Jackets on Thursday. After building up a 3-0 lead by the second period, two powerplay goals by Columbus allowed them to tie it up. To Montreal’s credit, they did manage two shorthanded goals, though Plekanec’s was into an empty net.
3) Increase the Gal(l)ys’ TOI: With Pacioretty out of the lineup, the team is counting on Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher to contribute. While Therrien has been consistent in limiting their ice time, it might be time to see what they’re capable of with a few more minutes. Prust played the most of the Habs’ forwards on Thursday (18:12) and had a solid game with an assist and a plus-3 rating. While a chunk of those minutes were played on the penalty kill (3:39), it would be interesting to see how Galchenyuk and Gallagher would fare given the opportunity.
Discuss this match in the HabsWorld Game Day Thread.
Prust – Plekanec – Gionta
Galchenyuk – Eller – Gallagher
Bourque – Desharnais – Briere
Moen – Bournival – White
Wilson – Fisher* – Hornqvist
Bourque – Cullen – Smith
Nystrom – Legwand – Forsberg
Stalberg – Gaustad – Hendricks
— Arpon Basu (@ArponBasu) October 19, 2013