The Montreal Canadiens take to the ice tonight against the Edmonton Oilers, one night after falling 3-2 to the Calgary Flames in the first game of a four game western Canadian trip.
The Canadiens played a sloppy first forty minutes, admittedly so by defenseman P.K. Subban, who said a bad practice on Tuesday in Calgary carried over into their game against the Flames.
The Habs were able to mount a partial comeback from a 3-0 hole they fell into in the second period, but ultimately fell a goal short of tying the game in the final minutes. Subban was quite critical of his own play, mentioning his two third period penalties buried the Canadiens chances, although P.K. was perhaps their best skater, on a night when there was plenty of blame to go around.
The line of Max Pacioretty, Daniel Briere and David Desharnais, failed to find the scoresheet once again, aside from Pacioretty’s power play assist on Subban’s marker. The trio have now combined for one point on the season, even though they are used more than any other line. It is time for that line to bring something to the table offensively, or they will soon see their ice time reduced drastically.
The scoring this season has been left primarily to the Canadiens youngest line of Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher, who have scored six of the Habs nine goals on the year thus far. The Canadiens veterans are going to need to step up, and contribute offensively, at the very least apply some pressure when on the ice, if the Canadiens are going to be able to defeat the speedy Oilers tonight.
Edmonton has begun the season with the same 1-2-0 record as the Canadiens, and will be hungry for two points in their home rink tonight, before they begin a lengthy road trip of their own. The Oilers mounted an impressive third period comeback in their most recent game, storming back from a 3-0 deficit and defeating the New Jersey Devils 5-4 in overtime.
Edmonton has plenty of offensive weapons, but have had plenty of trouble keeping the puck out of their own net to begin the season. They have allowed 15 goals in just three games, and the Canadiens will have to use their speed and depth to apply pressure and ensure that trend continues tonight.
Devan Dubnyk will get the start in goal for the Oilers, and he has struggled in his two starts, posting a 6.52 goals against average along with a .831 save percentage.
For Montreal, it appears Peter Budaj will make his season debut, as Therrien mentioned yesterday his goaltenders would split the back to back games. Budaj posted an impressive 8-1-1 record for Montreal last season, including a 3-1-1 record in the second night of consecutive games.
The Canadiens played two games in two nights on nine occasions last year, and posted a 7-1-1 record on the second night in those games, including winning the final six.
Line combinations are difficult to predict at this point for tonight’s game. Josh Gorges left the game against the Flames early with an injury, and if he can not play tonight, Nathan Beaulieu will make his season debut for the Canadiens.
I will update the blog and send out a tweet, (hey, follow us on twitter, @FSAWinningHabit !) when the lines are made available.