Columbus Blue Jackets (10–7–1) at Montreal Canadiens (8–9–1)
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2017, 7 p.m. (BELL CENTRE)
After an abysmal start, the Montreal Canadiens have finally hit their stride, winning four of their last five games. Strangely enough, all-world goalie Carey Price hasn't been a part of any of those games. He's currently sidelined with a knee injury, having posted an uncharacteristically bad .877 save percentage prior to that. Now his backup, Al Montoya, is out as well with a concussion. Jackets fans have fond memories of the former Michigan Wolverine.
Regardless, no Montoya or Price means that the Habs are down to 23-year-old Charlie Lindgren and 22-year-old Zach Fucale in net. Expect Lindgren to get the start – he was lights-out in his last start – between the pipes tonight.
You Oughta Know: Jonathan Drouin
Every so often, there's a true "hockey trade" that sends shockwaves through the league. The Jackets acquisition of Artemi Panarin this offseason, for example, or the Ryan Johansen for Seth Jones swap. The Canadiens made a deal like that of their own this offseason, sending elite defensive prospect Mikhail Sergachev to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Drouin, a highly touted player in his own right. And the 22-year-old Quebec native has hit the ground running for the Habs.
The über-skilled forward is one of Montreal's top scoring forwards, putting up 12 points in his first 17 games with the club, a year after a breakout 53 point season. His current production puts him on pace to hit those marks again this year, but his game is the type that can catch fire with the right linemates. For now, he's paired up with another skilled youngster in Alex Galchenyuk, a duo that, if they break out, can carry the Habs for years to come.
- As of Monday night, there are just five teams in the NHL with fewer points than games played, and the Habs are one of them.
- The Canadiens have one of the best goal scorers in the league in Max Pacioretty. Only Alex Ovechkin, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby and John Tavares have more goals since the 2012-13 season.
- Get ready to see a lot of Shea Weber. The former Nashville Predator is sixth in the NHL in average ice time per game, logging an impressive 26:38 per night. For reference, Seth Jones (his former teammate) leads Columbus at 23:54 per game.
THIS YEAR: First meeting
ALL-TIME SERIES: Blue Jackets lead 11-9-1-2
Keys to the Game
ONE: Rattle Lindgren early. So, 10-0 probably won't happen again, and while Charlie Lindgren has impressed so far, he's still young. The Jackets have scored goals in bunches at times this year. Shaking Lindgren's confidence could be key.
TWO: Make the most of scoring chances. The Jackets have been a possession giant so far this year, but it hasn't always translated to goals. The Habs have a strong defensive group – a good mix of shut-down ability and mobility on the backend – that could spell trouble for the Jackets. Assuming scoring chances aren't particularly abundant, the Jackets will have to convert on the chances that they do get.
THREE: Active sticks! John Tortorella blamed the Jackets' loss to Carolina partly on getting out-worked and out-skated, and singled out the stickwork that the Canes displayed to cause turnovers. The Jackets can't fall into that same trap. Montreal is a skilled team that's starting to hit their stride, and the Jackets will have to throw them off their game in order to come away with a road win.
Canadiens Projected Lineup
|67||Max Pacioretty||18 GP, 7-5-12||24||Phillip Danault||18 GP, 3-8-11||65||Andrew Shaw||18 GP, 4-5-9|
|27||Alex Galchenyuk||18 GP, 4-2-6||92||Jonathan Drouin||17 GP, 3-9-12||62||Artturi Lehkonen||18 GP, 2-3-5|
|41||Paul Byron||18 GP, 3-2-5||14||Tomas Plekanec||18 GP, 3-3-6||11||Brendan Gallagher||18 GP, 7-5-12|
|54||Charles Hudon||17 GP, 2-4-6||25||Jacob de la Rose||9 GP, 0-0-0||42||Byron Froese||2 GP, 0-0-0|
|8||Jordie Benn||17 GP, 1-4-5||6||Shea Weber||17 GP, 3-8-11|
|22||Karl Alzner||18 GP, 0-4-4||26||Jeff Petry||18 GP, 2-3-5|
|53||Victor Mete||18 GP, 0-3-3||45||Joe Morrow||8 GP, 1-1-2|