Canadiens Game Day: Carey Price will be back in goal vs. Oilers


Goalie allowed three goals on 14 shots in Saturday’s loss to Ottawa Senators after missing the previous six games with a lower-body injury.

Article content

Carey Price will be back on goal for the Canadiens when they face the Oilers Monday night in Edmonton (9 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

Price allowed three goals on 14 shots in a 4-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators Saturday at the Bell Centre (the fourth goal was an empty-netter). Price had missed the previous six games with a lower-body injury.

Price has a 12-7-5 record this season with a 2.67 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage. Backup goalie Jake Allen has a 7-7-4 record with a 2.44 GAA and a .915 save percentage.

Mike Smith will start in goal for the Oilers. He has a 15-4-2 record with a 2.36 GAA and a .922 save percentage.

This will be the sixth game this season between the Canadiens and Oilers. The Canadiens have a 4-1-0 record in the first five games while outscoring the Oilers 15-7.

The Oilers are in third place in the all-Canadian North Division with a 26-15-2 record, seven points ahead of the fourth-place Canadiens (19-14-9) with Montreal holding one game in hand. The Canadiens, who are holding the final playoff spot, are six points ahead of Calgary (19-22-3) and hold two games in hand on the Flames.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

The Flames play the Senators Monday night in Calgary (9 p.m., TSN5, RDS2).

Heading into Monday night’s games, Sportsclubstats.com had the Canadiens’ chances of making the playoffs listed at 89.5 per cent, while the Flames were listed at 6 per cent.

The Canadiens are 2-5-0 in their last seven games since Brendan Gallagher was sidelined with a fractured thumb, scoring only 11 goals during that span and getting shut out twice.

“I think everyone can be better,” Jesperi Kotkaniemi said after Monday’s morning skate in Edmonton. “The last game it wasn’t as good as we can be. I think that’s just for everyone. We can just pick it up a little bit and be a little bit better and I think that will be good for us.

“It was a tough loss,” Kotkaniemi added about Saturday’s game. “It would be nice to get a little bounce-back game tonight and show everyone what we got.”

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

This Game Day notebook will be updated.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

The lines

Here’s how the forward lines and defence pairing looked at the Canadiens’ morning skate Monday:

Tatar – Danault – Anderson
Toffoli – Suzuki – Armia
Drouin – Kotkaniemi – Byron
Lehkonen – Staal – Perry
Frolik – Evans – Caufield

Chiarot – Weber
Edmundson – Petry
Romanov – Kulak
Ouellet

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Dynamic duo might be due

The Oilers’ Connor McDavid was leading the NHL scoring race with 23-48-71 totals in 43 games before facing the Canadiens Monday night. McDavid’s teammate Leon Draisaitl was second in NHL scoring with 22-41-63 totals.

But the Canadiens have been able to pretty much shut down Edmonton’s dynamic duo this season. In the first five games against the Canadiens, McDavid has no goals and one assist, while Draisaitl has one goal and two assists.

Scoring slumps

The Canadiens had a number of players mired in goal-scoring slumps heading into Monday night’s game, led by Jonathan Drouin, who had no goals in the last 24 games, one in the last 36 and only two in 42 games this season.

Artturi Lehkonen hadn’t scored a goal in his last 10 games, had one in the last 24 and had three goals in 33 games this season.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Joel Armia had no goals in his last 11 games and Kotkaniemi had no goals in his last 10. Nick Suzuki had one goal in his last 11 games and Phillip Danault and Paul Byron both had one goal in their last nine games.

Jake Evans, who will be a healthy scratch for the fourth straight game Monday night, has no goals in his last 30 games and two in 36 games this season.

Eric Staal, who scored an OT goal in his Canadiens debut after being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres, had gone seven games since without scoring and he’s minus-8 since joining the Canadiens after being minus-20 in 32 games with the Sabres.

Power-play problems

The Canadiens’ power play looked better for a while after Dominique Ducharme took over from Claude Julien as head coach at the end of February and put Alex Burrows in charge of it, replacing the fired Kirk Muller.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

But the Canadiens’ power play has looked as bad as ever in recent games, going 0-for-8 in the last three games, 1-for-19 in the last eight games and 2-for-31 in the last 11 games.

Heading into Monday night’s game, the Canadiens ranked 21st in the NHL on the power play with a 19.1 per cent success rate.

“On the power play, the first thing we wanted to make sure we had when Alex came in, I asked him to really work on the mindset of the power play, the pace,” Ducharme said after Monday’s morning skate.

“There are ways that you need to retrieve the puck and be involved and get those pucks back,” Ducharme added. “I think we did that really good having numbers around the puck and forcing teams to give it back to us or winning it back. And then having good pace, execution and attacking quick. I think our execution right now is not as good. Our pace and our battle level on the power play is not as good. And at times when I say battle level it’s having the numbers. You can have one guy coming in and battling like crazy, but we need to have three guys in there to retrieve that puck and that’s where we need to be quicker to get in and find those pucks back. That mindset, that pace that we talked about, that’s what we want to see. We worked on it this morning for five minutes. I liked what I saw and let’s take it to the game.”

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Suzuki noted that the Canadiens have also been having problems entering the offensive zone on the power play.

“I think once we’re in the offensive zone we’ve been a lot of good stuff,” he said. “Just the breakouts have to be cleaner as a whole unit. I think we should be doing better tonight.”

Kotkaniemi improving on faceoffs

Heading into Monday night’s game the Canadiens ranked 23rd in the NHL in faceoffs, winning only 48.7 per cent.

The good news is that Kotkaniemi is showing improvement in the faceoff circle, winning more than 50 per cent in eight of his previous 11 games, improving his percentage to 49.5 per cent for the season. Kotkaniemi said it’s the part of his game he has improved the most this season.

“I think we’ve been working on those a lot and I’m feeling a bit more comfortable in that area,” he said. “I think it’s better for us to start with the puck and not always chase the puck on the ice.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

“For me, I think it’s every day a little bit more faceoffs lately,” he added. “Just get the rhythm going on the ice. You get to know the other guys from the other teams … that’s been really big for me. I think back in the day I just was taking about four faceoffs in a game, so it’s hard to get in a rhythm.”

Faceoffs continue to be a problem for Suzuki, who is only winning 44.3 per cent this season.

Staal has won 59.3 per cent of his faceoffs since joining the Canadiens, while Danault has won 51.6 per cent of his faceoffs this season.

What’s next?

They will play the Oilers again Wednesday night (10 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM). After that, the Canadiens will head to Calgary for three games against the Flames on Friday (9 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM), Saturday (7 p.m., CITY, SNE, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM) and next Monday (6:30 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.





Source link

Related posts

Leave a Comment