So, what’s the deal? The Montreal Canadiens are good on the road this season, where they’ve posted a 9-5-3 record. However, the team’s home record is only 8-8-3. The team began its four-game Western Canadian road trip with back-to-back victories, then lost to the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 on Saturday night.
Why is the team doing well on the road? The 35-year-old veteran center Nate Thompson put it this way: “I think it starts off with being good defensively. I think if you’re good defensively and you’re not taking too many penalties, those are the key things, especially for road games. You make it a one-goal game or a tie game, I think you always give yourself a chance to win on the road.”
In this post, as the team waits to play the Winnipeg Jets on December 23, I want to keep Canadiens’ fans apprised of the news coming from the team and the organization.
Item One: Victor Mete Might Be Ready to Play Against the Jets
Victor Mete, who’s been out with an ankle injury, might be ready to return to action Monday night against the Jets. Mete has missed 10 games with that nagging ankle injury, and after setting a franchise who-wants-this-record of going 127 games without a goal, Mete has scored three goals and had five assists in 26 games this season. Even if he doesn’t score, he’s a good play and the Canadiens miss him.
Item Two: Jeff Petry Scored Against His Former Team
Although during his 10-year career, Jeff Petry was only with the Edmonton Oilers for four seasons (and six with the Habs) it must still feel good to go to your former home rink and be successful. On Saturday, he scored a goal and added two helpers in a 4-3 road loss to the Oilers.
In total, Petry played 21:35 on 25 shifts. He had been on a bit of a drought, with only one goal and one assist in nine games in December; however, he showed up on the score sheet in this game. In fact, it was his first multiple-point game since November 5.
Item Three: Carey Price Has a Rare Down Game Against the Oilers
Carey Price came into the Oilers’ game on a hot streak and had only given up 10 goals in his last six games. But he couldn’t keep up that pace against the Oilers and gave up four goals on 26 shots. As a result, his season’s record is 15-11-3, with a 2.89 GAA and a .905 save percentage in 28 games.
It was a rare loss for Price, who had won five of his last six starts. The four goals he gave up were his most since November 28 against the New Jersey Devils. He looks to bounce back against Winnipeg in the team’s last game before a holiday break.
Item Three: Joel Armia Is Having a Career Season
Against Calgary in Thursday’s overtime victory, 26-year-old Joel Armia scored his 12th goal of the season when he tied the game 2-2 in the second period. The native of Finland is having a career season including a recent short streak of one goal and three assists in his last three games. In total, Armia has scored 21 points in 34 games this season.
Armia is only a goal away from matching his career-high of 13 that he scored last season with the Canadiens. He’s had a strong season and is on pace to have 29 goals, which would be an amazing stat for him. He hasn’t shown that much scoring prowess during any of his previous seasons with the Habs or the Winnipeg Jets.
As head coach Claude Julien notes about Armia, “He’s got a really good shot and good hands. May not have the lightning speed that a lot of the players that are scoring have, but he finds his way to the net. He’s got good vision, he gets in those opening spaces.” (from Canadiens at Oilers: Five things you should know, Stu Cowan, Montreal Gazette, 12/21/19)
Item Four: Nick Suzuki Scored Against the Flames
Nick Suzuki scored the game-tying goal halfway through the third period of Thursday’s 4-3 overtime win against Calgary. With that goal, the rookie forward snapped a 12-game goal-scoreless streak. It was his seventh goal of the season, and he now has 16 points in 35 games this year.
Item Five: Brendan Gallagher Leads the Canadiens with 15 Goals this Season
Although Edmonton-native Brendan Gallagher didn’t score against his hometown Oilers, he did score his team-leading 15th goal of the season (Tomas Tatar has 13 goals for second place on the team) on Thursday in the 4-3 win over the Flames. Gallagher now has five goals and four assists in the last nine games and 28 points over 36 games in total.
Item Six: Artturi Lehkonen Scores Two Assists Against Calgary
Finnish player Artturi Lehkonen had two second-period assists on goals by Gallagher and Armia as the Canadiens came back from being down two goals to eventually win in overtime. He also had an assist in the loss to the Oilers. Prior to the Calgary game, Lehkonen had only had three assists in his last 10 games and now has 16 points in 36 games this season.
What’s Next with the Montreal Canadiens?
The Canadiens are in the middle of a rare seven-game road trip, punctuated by a Christmas break. After playing the Winnipeg Jets, they have a four-day break and then go south to play the Tampa Bay Lightning on December 28 and then, the next evening, the Florida Panthers. They finish in Carolina against the Hurricanes on New Years’ Eve.
Should the team continue its strong road play, it could move closer to a position in the playoff hunt. Go Habs.
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