The Montreal Canadiens host the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight. Here is everything you need to know about the Habs contest.
The Montreal Canadiens are taking on the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first time this season. These two teams battled all the way to the bitter end last season for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. A big Blue Jackets win over the Canadiens late in the season ensured Columbus was in the postseason and the Habs were out.
The Blue Jackets then did the unthinkable and not only beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round, but they swept them in four straight games. It left fans of the Canadiens wondering what could have been had they been able to just grab two more points and knock the Blue Jackets out of the playoff picture.
The Habs get a chance for a very small piece of revenge tonight as they host the Blue Jackets. Columbus is off to a…ummm.. not good start if we keep it mild. They have a record of 6-8-3 through 17 games and don’t look like they are going to stand in the way of the Canadiens making the postseason again.
They lost several key players from last year’s lineup as Sergei Bobrovsky, Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin and Ryan Dzingel all left via free agency. They are being led offensively by Pierre-Luc Dubois and Gustav Nyquist who have 11 points in 17 games each.
Elvis Merzlikins will get the start in goal for the Blue Jackets and he hasn’t been great to start his NHL career. He has three starts to his name so far but is still searching for his first victory. He allowed seven goals in NHL debut to the Pittsburgh Penguins, then was beat three times in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks and then allowed four in an overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues.
One thing to keep an eye on tonight are the depth forwards for the Habs. Jesperi Kotkaniemi should be back in the lineup any day now and that means someone in tonight’s lineup has to be removed for the next game. I’d expect a big effort from Ryan Poehling, Nick Cousins and Nate Thompson again, as they are literally fighting for a spot in the lineup right now.
The Habs are 5-1-1 in their last seven games and have an opportunity to stay hot against a team that isn’t off to a great start. With a win tonight, the Habs could leapfrog the Toronto Maple Leafs and into second place in the Atlantic Division. This would put them just two points back of the Boston Bruins who couldn’t lose for the first month of the season.
Here is everything you need to know about tonight’s contest: