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With Detroit having moved to the East just recently, there hasn’t been much of an opportunity for the Habs to play many meaningful games against them, let alone develop a rivalry. However, there is a pretty good chance these two could meet in the postseason which would change that in a hurry. How does Montreal match up against the Wings?

Regular Season Results/Schedule

October 10: Montreal 2, Detroit 1 (OT)
November 16: Montreal 4, Detroit 1
February 16: Montreal 2, Detroit 0
April 9: Detroit vs Montreal

Head-to-Head Leaders


Goals: Plekanec (2), 6 tied with (1)
Assists: Plekanec/Subban (3), Pacioretty (2)
Points: Plekanec (5), Subban (4)
PIMS: Gallagher/Gonchar/Markov/Pacioretty (4)


Goals: Sheahan/Zetterberg (1)
Assists: DeKeyser (2), Datsyuk/Tatar (1)
Points: DeKeyser (2), Datsyuk/Sheahan/Tatar/Zetterberg (1)
PIMS: Abdelkader/Quincey (4), 6 tied with (2)

Special Teams


Montreal: 0% PP (0/7), 90.9% PK (10/11)
Detroit: 9.1% PP (1/11), 100% PK (7/7)

Regular Season:

(Stats are as of games played through March 30th.)

Montreal: 16.4% PP (36/219, 24th overall), 84.0% PK (200/238, T-7th overall)
Detroit: 24.3% PP (66/272, 2nd overall), 80.6% PK (212/263, 20th overall)

Clearly, special teams haven’t meant much in the three head-to-head matchups this year. However, they are a big part of Detroit’s game overall. They lead the NHL in power play opportunities per game and convert at a pretty high rate. However, they also take a lot of penalties; only two teams have spent more time in the sin bin. As a result, the PP may be of considerable importance in a series between these teams. If that’s the case, give Detroit the advantage.


Head-to-Head this season:

Carey Price (MTL): 2-0-0 record, 0.50 GAA, .981 SV%, 1 SO
Dustin Tokarski (MTL): 1-0-0 record, 1.00 GAA, .966 SV%, 0 SO

Jimmy Howard (DET): 0-2-1 record, 2.40 GAA, .916 SV%, 0 SO

Head-to-Head All-Time:
(Regular Season Stats only)

Carey Price (MTL): 6-3-1 record, 2.38 GAA, .922 SV%, 1 SO
Dustin Tokarski (MTL): 1-0-0 record, 1.00 GAA, .966 SV%, 0 SO

Jonas Gustavsson (DET): 5-3-1 record, 2.51 GAA, .905 SV%, 0 SO
Jimmy Howard (DET): 3-4-1 record, 2.84 GAA, .895 SV%, 0 SO

The Red Wings are having a bit of a goalie crisis right now as Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek have both had their ups and downs when asked to start in recent weeks. That’s never an ideal situation to be in heading into the playoffs. Jonas Gustavsson could also be in the picture once he returns from injury although it’s unlikely he’ll be more than the backup.

There is no crisis for the Canadiens as everyone knows who their starter is. Carey Price has played well against the Wings this season and has been strong against just about everyone else. There’s no doubt that the Habs have a considerable edge here.


Detroit Montreal
Kronwall – Ericsson
DeKeyser – Quincey
Smith – Zidlicky

Scratches: Kindl
Injuries: None

Markov – Subban
Gilbert – Petry
Emelin – Pateryn

Scratches: Beaulieu, Gonchar,

(Gilbert is currently injured but is expected to be back this week and will likely have a spot in the lineup when he does return.)

There are quite a few similarities when it comes to the bluelines. Both teams have a couple of players that will play physically but primarily feature mobile players who can move the puck up the ice either by skating it out or making a good first pass. Neither team gets a lot of offence from its defence corps either as both squads have 32 blueline goals. In Montreal’s case, most of it is from that top pairing while Detroit’s production is more balanced.

I’m not a big fan of Detroit’s depth on the back end and I think the Canadiens’ top pairing can have a lot more of an impact on the game than the Wings’ top unit (although their duo is more physical than skilled). As a result, I’d give the advantage to the Habs for the defence.


Detroit Montreal
Tatar – Datsyuk – Helm
Abdelkader – Zetterberg – Nyquist
Cole – Sheahan – Pulkkinen
Miller – Glendening – Jurco

Scratches: Andersson, Cleary, Weiss
Injured: Franzen

Pacioretty – Desharnais – Parenteau
Galchenyuk – Plekanec – Gallagher
de la Rose – Eller – Flynn
Prust – Mitchell – Weise

Scratches: Malhotra, Smith-Pelly
Injured: None

(Sheahan is currently injured but is expected to be back before the postseason.)

As was the case on the blueline, there are some similarities between the forward groups. Both squads have a good mix of young and veteran talent in their top six and are strong skating teams.

Detroit has a bit of an edge in terms of scoring depth as they have three lines that are capable of scoring with some regularity. With due respect to Montreal’s third line which has played well of late, they’re not scoring an awful lot. The Wings also have a pair of players who can be classified as game-breakers in Datsyuk and Zetterberg. For the Habs, Pacioretty has a reputation for being a timely sniper but he’s not at the same level when it comes to taking over a game.

There aren’t many teams that the Canadiens have a physical advantage over but this is one of them, albeit only to a small degree. I also think the fact that both bottom six units can be shutdown lines will be advantageous when dealing with that better-balanced Detroit attack.

Controlling Zetterberg and Datsyuk will be the key here. The Habs won’t be able to stop them outright but if they can limit those two from taking over, give them the advantage. If they can’t, they could be in some serious trouble unless Montreal gets some unexpected contributions outside of their top few players.

Final Thought

Goaltending can take a team on quite a run in the playoffs or it can end Stanley Cup aspirations in a hurry. Right now, Detroit’s situation appears to be leaning more towards the latter than the former while Price is about as reliable as it gets between the pipes.

While there are other concerns, such as coaching, puck possession, and the likes of Zetterberg and Datsyuk, a top goalie can pretty much single-handedly overcome that. That’s why I’m confident that the Habs could oust Detroit should they meet in the first round. Given their playing styles, it would also make for an interesting series compared to the highly-physical affairs vs other opponents we’ve seen in recent years.