The Montreal Canadiens are playing the San Jose Sharks at home tonight. The Sharks are on an extended a five-game road trip and will meet the Canadiens who themselves just returned from their own two-game trip.
On the road, the Canadiens beat the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues 5-2 Saturday but lost 4-3 Sunday to the Minnesota Wild. The Wild loss at the time was a bit of surprise; however, the Wild then turned around and shutout the high-flying Edmonton Oilers. So perhaps it wasn’t such a surprise?
In this post, I want to keep Canadiens’ fans up-to-date with some of the news emerging from the team.
Item One: The Canadiens Are Developing a Top Line
I’m not sure what the insider expectations were for the Canadiens this season, but there have been some nice surprises. For example, the Canadiens (who are now 4-3-2) are continuing to get good production from the line of Phillip Danault (center), Brendan Gallagher (right-wing), and Tomas Tatar (left-wing). This group has been playing together since the start of last season and has evolved into the team’s first line. Perhaps that says something about leaving players together to develop chemistry.
Both Gallagher and Danault lead the team with four goals and Tatar has scored three. Together, they have 23 points in nine games.
Gallagher noted that, as a line, “You want to produce. I couldn’t care less who scores the goal. I think it’s important you want to be a part of it. As a line you always talk about how you want to be plus players, you want to be scoring more than you’re giving up. That’s part of it. If Tuna or Phil score, I’m equally excited.”
[By the way, Tatar started to be called Tuna when he played in Detroit. Tatar believes the nickname was started by teammate Tomos Holmstrom, who coined it from the name for the appetizer “Tuna Tatare,” which was short for a fish recipe involving Tatar’s surname. Tatar noted, “It’s like the appetizer so I guess the tuna kind of sticks with me.” Whatever, it’s one of the most interesting nicknames in the NHL.]
Last season, Gallagher scored 33 goals and was plus-10, Tatar scored 25 goals and was plus-21, and Danault had 12 goals with a plus-17. This season, the trio is continuing the good work. The line is good enough that Canadiens’ head coach Claude Julien has played them together as a line for the second season. As Gallagher noted, it’s nice to be trusted by your coach.
Item Two: Canadiens’ Injury Updates
Two Canadiens’ players are currently injured. These two players are:
Tomas Tatar, who took a shot off the foot in practice, is suffering a lower-body injury. Coach Julien said, “He got hurt just near the end of practice. He took a puck on the foot. I can’t tell you more than that. He’s being examined right now and we’ll hopefully have good news sooner than later. But right now I have nothing more than that.” As of practice this morning, however, it looks as if Tatar will be dressed for Thursday’s game.
Joel Armia, who’s missed the past two games with a lower-body injury, will be in Thursday’s line-up.
Item Three: Paul Byron Hasn’t Scored Yet This Season
Paul Byron hasn’t scored a goal in nine games this season. However, coach Julien noted that “Paul is definitely not hurting us. He’s still a player.” Julien did suggest that he thinks “people are used to seeing him do more, so are we. I guess that’s the part that he’s trying to find right now. I don’t think it’s a big adjustment.” Byron has only two assists this season.
Item Four: Victor Mete Finally Scores His First NHL Goal
After 126 frustrating games, Victor Mete finally scored his first career NHL goal. The 21-year-old defenseman has ended the problem and now has a one on the score sheet. Watch, he’ll probably have another goal in tonight’s game.
What’s Next for the Montreal Canadiens?
After tonight’s game against the Sharks, the Senators play the Toronto Maple Leafs at home on Saturday evening. This will be the second meeting of the teams, and the Maple Leafs won the first game of the season at home by a score of 5-3. It will be a good Hockey Night in Canada broadcast.
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