Game 12 Preview: Montreal Canadiens @ Ottawa Senators

It’s the rivals’ first of three matchups this season.

The NHL named Jean-Gabriel Pageau the league’s third star of the week today -- hopefully a good sign of what’s to come tonight.

One of the biggest surprises of the 2017-18 season thus far has been the Montreal Canadiens, who rank dead last in the Eastern Conference with a dismal 3-7-1 record. Their goaltending has especially been underachieving, and for a team that lives and dies by Carey Price, it’s no surprise that his struggles have placed the Habs in their position. That’s not to say their offence hasn’t been a problem either, as they rank dead last in goals per 60 minutes, although their 5.15% shooting percentage is likely to climb back up eventually.

Ottawa, meanwhile, has lost two of their last three, although haven’t lost in regulation in nearly two weeks. Their five overtime/shootout losses is more than double any other team, which although might seem concerning, can also be comforting in knowing that shootouts are typically more random. A bit more puck luck (plus maybe a few better lineup decisions) could’ve easily brought this team closer to the top of the division. They’re currently in second, four points behind the Lightning and one point ahead of the Leafs.

Craig Anderson will start for the Senators, and the Habs will match with their best goaltender starting Al Montoya. The Sens recalled Max McCormick this morning, although will sit him in favour of playing 11 forwards and seven defencemen. Kyle Turris is still out with the flu, whereas Bobby Ryan’s broken finger will keep him out for at least a few more weeks.

Here’s tonight’s projected lineup, from DailyFaceoff:

Here are some notes:

  • Jack Rodewald will play his second NHL game tonight, after not even being eligible to play just a week ago. He looked unnoticeable in his first appearance against the Devils — hopefully he can find his groove.
  • In their 66 minutes at 5v5 so far, Erik Karlsson and Johnny Oduya have all had positive results in Corsi, goals and expected goals relative to when they’re on the bench. Phaneuf and Ceci, meanwhile, have an expected goals percentage of 25.77% - a league worst amongst pairings who’ve played at least 50 minutes.
  • After acquiring Jonathan Drouin over the summer, the forward has been Montreal’s clear cut best player. It came at a hefty price, however, as Mikhail Sergachev has as many goals by himself as the entire Montreal Canadiens defence corps, and two more points than Drouin.
  • Erik Karlsson is an Ottawa Senator. Just thought I’d point that out.
  • Connection of the Game: Paul Byron, who’s currently slotted on Montreal’s first line ahead of Pacioretty and Galchenyuk, is a rarity in the sense that he’s originally from Ottawa, but doesn’t play for the Senators. He played junior hockey for the Ottawa West Golden Knights, and crossed paths with Mike Hoffman when together they played for the Gatineau Olympiques in 2007-08. They Olympiques were QMJHL champions, although Hoffman left earlier in the season to join the Drummondville Voltigeurs./

Here are some stats, all from Natural Stat Trick because the NHL refuses to fix their website.

Team Stats

Goals against/GP2.648th3.8229th
Shots against/GP32.416th31.29th
Corsi (5v5, Score & Venue Adjusted)45.2531st52.526th
Fenwick (5v5, SVA)48.5320th52.796th

Player Stats

GoalsMark Stone7Danault/Weber/Gallagher/Byron/Pacioretty/Galchenyuk3
AssistsErik Karlsson9Jonathan Drouin6
PointsMark Stone12Jonathan Drouin8
ShotsMike Hoffman48Max Pacioretty48
TOI/GPErik Karlsson25:52Shea Weber26:09

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