The Montreal Canadiens head into Boston tonight to take on the Bruins. They won’t be catching Boston in the standings this year, but will look to start a new winning streak to get back into the playoff race.
The Montreal Canadiens head into Boston to take on their oldest rivals tonight. The Habs are hanging on by their fingernails to playoff hopes for the spring and will need to kick off another winning streak tonight if they want to keep those hopes alive heading into the trade deadline.
The Canadiens had won three in a row before falling 3-2 to the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night. A last minute goal by Jakob Chychrun ruined the Habs chance at salvaging at least a point in the game. Last night, the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Coyotes in overtime and the Florida Panthers took out the New Jersey Devils.
With the Canadiens trying to chase down the Maple Leafs and Panthers in the Atlantic Division standings, it wasn’t a great night on the out of town scoreboard. Montreal is now seven points back of the Leafs and Panthers and will need a historic rally late in the season to make the playoffs.
It will have to start tonight against one of the toughest opponents in the NHL. Not only are the Bruins currently leading the NHL in points, they are especially good at home. Their 19-2-9 record on home ice is the best in the NHL and they beat the Habs 3-1 in their last trip to Beantown.
With Paul Byron not quite ready to return, the Canadiens forward lines will look like this tonight:
Tomas Tatar – Phillip Danault – Brendan Gallagher
Ilya Kovalchuk – Nick Suzuki – Joel Armia
Jonathan Drouin – Max Domi – Artturi Lehkonen
Nick Cousins – Nate Thompson – Jake Evans
That is a deep group of forwards for the Canadiens. Drouin, Domi and Lehkonen on the third line gives the team a lot of depth up front. Suzuki has been exceptional between Armia and Kovalchuk and the top line has been one of the most reliable in the league since it was put together over a year ago. Who does Byron even replace in this lineup when he is healthy?
While depth is one of the first words that come to mind when talking about the forwards, on defence, it is not the case. With Shea Weber injured, the Canadiens defence pairings will look like this:
Ben Chiarot – Victor Mete
Brett Kulak – Jeff Petry
Marco Scandella – Xavier Ouellet
Yikes. The Bruins have some of the best forwards in the world in Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Who is going to get that matchup tonight? It will be difficult to slow down that Bruins line no matter who is on the ice against them.
Carey Price will be in goal, so it will be up to him to keep Pastrnak off the scoresheet. Price has been excellent since the calendar flipped to 2020 and will need to be at the top of his game tonight in Boston.
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We have already seen the Bruins blow out the Habs once this season. It was an 8-1 loss at the Bell Centre back in November during one of the Habs eight game losing streaks. If the Canadiens are going to hang around the playoff chase, they will need to start a new winning streak tonight in a very difficult building.