Montreal Canadiens Set For Rematch With Edmonton Oilers

EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 16: Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 16: Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

Montreal Canadiens opponents are going to become very familiar this season. In the past, trips out west were rare, but facing teams from Western Canada is going to be the norm this season.

The Habs are in an All-Canadian Division with the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs. Those are the only six teams they will face all year on their 56 game schedule.

In a normal season, the Habs would face a team like the Oilers twice. This year, they are going to see Edmonton on nine occasions. They already saw them on Saturday night and will play them at Rogers Place tonight for the rematch.

On Saturday night, the Canadiens were fairly dominant. The shot clock was pretty even, but it seemed like the puck was wedged into the Oilers zone for long stretches of time. The Oilers D struggled with the Habs ferocious forecheck and the depth of the Canadiens just wore out the top-heavy Oilers lineup.

By the end of the night, Jeff Petry had scored twice, Tomas Tatar netted a pair himself and Jake Evans scored his first of the season on a shorthanded break.

Slater Koekkoek would beat Carey Price over the shoulder late in the third period, but the Canadiens goaltender was perfect other than that, stopping 34 of 35 shots. He wasn’t peppered with chances, but did stop Connor McDavid on a breakaway in the first period and turned aside Leon Draisaitl on a couple of chances from the slot.

Mikko Koskinen looked out of sorts in the Oilers goal. He had a difficult time hanging on to any pucks and kept dropping rebounds out into the slot while he spun around in the crease. Price is known for his calm, cool demeanour in goal and Koskinen was quite the opposite.

The Oilers won’t have much choice but to go right back with Koskinen tonight. Their backup goaltender, Mike Smith is injured and they have had a hard time filling out their roster since. Anton Forsberg was claimed on waivers by the Carolina Hurricanes last week, so the Oilers are left with Stuart Skinner as their number two option.

The 22 year old Skinner hasn’t played an NHL game yet in his career and had a 3.31 goals-against average and a .892 save percentage last season.

An interesting wrinkle to the schedule this season is there are a lot of back to backs or even a stretch of three consecutive games against the same team. It will be interesting to see how much better the Oilers play tonight after being embarrassed on home ice by the Canadiens just two days ago.

Surely, the Habs will have to deal with some early pressure for the superstars, McDavid and Draisaitl. How they handle that could pave the way for the rest of the contest.

Having played so well, the Habs don’t appear to be changing anything in their lineup:

Tatar – Danault – Gallagher

Drouin – Suzuki – Anderson

Armia – Kotkaniemi – Toffoli

Byron – Evans – Lehkonen

Chiarot – Weber

Edmundson – Petry

Kulak – Romanov

Edmundson looked much better in his second game than he did on opening night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Playing on the second pairing with Jeff Petry, he is sure to face some tough competition so it will be interesting to watch how he fares tonight.

The Canadiens haven’t announced their starting goaltender yet, but they were off yesterday and are off again tomorrow. It would make sense to let Price start again, before the ten faces the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Jake Allen will likely make his debut in one of those back to backs on Wednesday or Thursday.

Next. Habs dominate Oilers in first win. dark

Tonight’s game starts at 9:00 PM EST, and will be on Sportsnet West if you live in Alberta or TSN2 if you do not.