It’s the biggest game of the season for the Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens are in a must-win situation tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks as they need the points to keep themselves in the race.

Let’s break down what we know. The Montreal Canadiens are 2-3 in their last five games with the latest loss to the New York Islanders coming from a poor defensive sequence in the final minutes. They’ve only managed to score more than two goals twice against the Los Angeles Kings and Detroit Red Wings (poor teams) but have had their offence stunted against the better competition, save for Anaheim.

Carey Price has been his usual stuff giving the Habs an opportunity to win every night but mistakes and lack of production place the team in poor situations to respond and capitalize. And finally, Andrew Shaw‘s words have to be the turning point of the year and this end-of-season plateau.

Tonight’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks is the biggest of the season. That’s not to say that a loss would take them out of the running for a playoff spot (*knocks on wood*). However, the Montreal Canadiens will have much bigger issues at hand if they come to bat with another lazy and at times sloppy performance on the ice after the things Shaw said.

Everyone on the team needs to work, and everyone needs to be dialled into the gameplan. Price can only do so much, and he needs support from the rest of his teammates.

Montreal took the 3-2 victory over Chicago the first time they played. Max Domi and Shea Weber opened up the scoring for the Habs while Patrick Kane potted in two to tie things up in the second period. Luckily, Tomas Tatar got the game-winning goal in the final two minutes of the night (the irony) to extend the team’s win streak at the time to three.

As seen in practice, Claude Julien changed things around with Artturi Lehkonen getting an opportunity on the second line with Domi and Shaw. Who knows how long that will last as results at this point of the season have to be more important than rewarding work ethic.

Montreal Canadiens

Forward Lines

Tomas Tatar – Phillip Danault – Brendan Gallagher
Artturi Lehkonen – Max Domi – Andrew Shaw
Jonathan Drouin – Jesperi Kotkaniemi – Joel Armia
Paul Byron – Nate Thompson – Jordan Weal

Defence Pairs

Victor Mete – Shea Weber
Brett Kulak – Jeff Petry
Jordie Benn – Christian Folin

Goaltenders

Carey Price
Antti Niemi

The Blackhawks are coming off a 5-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday. They had a 5-0 lead over them until the third period where Corey Crawford was pulled due to illness. Alex Debrincat and Brendan Perlini have been the hot hands there and a large part of the team’s offence as of late. However, Patrick Kane is still a superstar in this league and will be on the hunt for his 100th point of the season.

Chicago Blackhawks

Forward Lines

Brandon Saad – Jonathan Toews – Dylan Sikura
Dominik Kahun – Artem Anisimov – Patrick Kane
Alex Debrincat – Dylan Strome – Brendan Perlini
Chris Kunitz – David Kampf – Marcus Kruger

Defence Pairs

Duncan Keith – Erik Gustafsson
Gustav Forsling – Brent Seabrook
Carl Dahlstrom – Connor Murphy

Goaltenders

Corey Crawford
Collin Delia

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The Montreal Canadiens need to dig down deep and come out with a fierce effort. The Blackhawks are in the same position and have plugged away over the weeks to keep themselves in the race for a playoff spot. They won’t be holding back, and neither should the Habs.