The Montreal Canadiens have had a goofy week, but emerged quite fortunate and have now taken points in five of the team’s last six games. As they prepare to play the Los Angeles Kings tonight at home, here is some of the news that is surrounding the team.
Item One: Carey Price Has Two Interesting Games
During the past week, Carey Price played two quite interesting games. When he was cold, the team won: when he was hot, the team lost. Odd, this game of hockey.
Specifically, in the Tuesday game against the Boston Bruins, Price allowed four goals on 25 shots and wasn’t that sharp. However, not only did the team win but it took down one of the best teams in the NHL – the Boston Bruins. As well, it was Tuukka Rask’s first regulation loss this season. Perhaps the most astonishing event of the game, and this has nothing to do with Price, Victor Mete scored twice after going 127 games without a goal. (I will say more about that later.)
Then, in Thursday’s game, Price allowed three goals on 43 shots and lost 4-3 in overtime to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Canadiens were actually overwhelmed and outplayed by the Flyers, but Price’s heroics helped keep his team in the game. Price, almost by himself, gained the team a point in the standings.
Price’s season record is now 7-4-2 with a 2.77 goals-against-average and a .912 save percentage. But, still, he remains one of the best NHL goalies (I’m biased?) and his stats will likely improve during the season. Price will start against Los Angeles Kings today: the Kings have lost six of their last seven games.
Item Two: Victor Mete a Goal-Scoring Powerhouse
I obviously was being ironic with that title, but in Tuesday’s Bruins game, after taking 127 games to score his first NHL goal (which was approaching an NHL record in futility), Mete needed only seven games before scoring two goals – obviously the second and third goal of his career. Never known as a scorer, it was Mete’s first multi-goal game since his first year of junior hockey.
Interestingly enough, the goals came on a night when head coach Claude Julien demoted Mete from the top defensive pairing to the second pairing where he played with veteran Jeff Petry as his partner.
Mete liked the result, saying: “It was good. I thought we were able to kind of read off each other really well and made strong plays. I thought it was maybe a little bit faster moving the puck up. We both like to be in the play, so when I would see him go I’d stay back a little bit and when he would see me he’d stay back, too. I think we read off each other pretty well.”
Item Three: Tomas Tatar: He’s Up, Then He’s Down
During the November 6 win over the Bruins, Tomas Tatar was named the game’s second star after scoring a goal and an assist. It was his fifth goal of the season, and he now has 13 points in 15 games this season (and six points in his last five games).
However, against the Flyers, Tatar was demoted from the top line to the fourth line after picking up two early penalties and contributing nothing offensively. Julien replaced Tatar on the top line with Nick Cousins. Julien reported later that the demotion would be temporary and Tatar would return to the top line with center Phillip Danault and right-winger Brendan Gallagher in Saturday’s home game against the Kings. Obviously Julien was trying to light a match under his team that, at the time, was being horribly outplayed by the Flyers.
Item Four: Jonathan Drouin Is Showing Up Every Game
It isn’t my imagination that the question about Jonathan Drouin early in the season was “When would he be traded?” I’m thinking that question is now a thing of the past. Drouin hasn’t gone more than two games in a row without recording a point and now has seven goals and six assists (for 13 points) in 16 games.
In the game against the Flyers on Thursday, he had an assist on the game-tying goal after his great fore-checking with partner Joel Armia turned the puck over in the Flyers’ defensive zone. He then passed to captain Shea Weber, who one-timed it to tie the game in the third period allowing the team to at least take a single point in the game.
What’s Next for the Montreal Canadiens?
The Canadiens meet the Kings at home tonight. They’re on a skid, with a 1-5-1 record in their last seven games. After playing the Canadiens, they head home – obviously a frustrated team.
The Kings also have two injury concerns. They lost 12-year Kings veteran Trevor Lewis (lower-body injury). As well, there’s a question whether defenseman Drew Doughty would play. Doughty injured his left leg in Thursday’s game in Ottawa but played the third period and overtime (27:37 minutes in total, he’s a horse).
What’s interesting about his injury is that Doughty, winner of the Norris Trophy in 2015-16, hasn’t missed a single game since 2013-14. In total, that’s a Kings’ record of 426 consecutive games. I hope he’s able to play. He’s one player who earns his money.
My prediction is that the Canadiens will win by a score of 4-2. Usually, I predict a goal scorer, but this time I predict that Mete won’t score. [OK, Gallagher will score.]
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