On Wednesday night the Montreal Canadiens will hit the ice in NYC when they face the New York Islanders in NHL hockey action. The first-place Habs (5-0-1) are the only team left in the NHL who are unbeaten in regulation time, so they will work hard to prolong that record.
NHL hockey is definitely a game of momentum, and luckily for Montreal, they have it with their four consecutive wins following a 3-1 win versus the visiting Philadelphia Flyers this past Monday night. Habs coach Michel Therrien really liked what he saw from his team and especially their power play. Tomorrow night with that success he will probably continue to tinker with it.
On Monday he wanted to jump start Montreal’s stalled power play, so Therrien shuffled around most of the players and that ended up being the difference to beat the Flyers.
They were able to stifle the Flyers attack with the lone goal scored by Jakub Voracek in the second period. Despite losing Flyers goalie Steve Mason gave up only a pair of goals on 32 shots and had a great performance, only his team mates could not score on Carey Price. The Canadiens got their power play goal from Brenden Gallagher with Shea Weber also scoring, as Alexander Radulov hit the empty net, also adding a pair of assists, which made Price’s 31 save effort a winner.
So on the rise, the Habs will meet another team, the New York Islanders who might also be on the rise, who have wins in three of four games. A good test will be Monstreal. The Islanders looked really good on Sunday as they doubled up on the visiting Minnesota Wild in a 6-3 win. John Tavares was excellent, and led scoring by breaking out with a pair of goals with Alan Quine, Calvin de Haan, Johnny Boychuk and Thomas Hickey also scoring, which put a win beside goalie Thomas Greiss’ name, who made 26 saves to get the win. The Wild just lacked firepower despite getting two goals from star Zach Parise, and another from Nino Niederreiter, as back up netminder Darcy Kuemper got stuck with the loss after making 27 saves.
So today Montreal know they will be facing a divisional rival that has some steam. Reporters saw that not a lot changed at practice today with Montreal, but they did announce that Al Montoya will get the start on Wednesday night instead of Price since he is still recovering from the flu.
Montoya probably won’t get too many times to start this season since he is backing up one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, that’s of Price can stay healthy. So far, he’s done pretty well in his first three starts this season, having gone 2-0-1 with a 1.30 GAA and .962 save percentage in the contests. The veteran netminder will want to keep their streak going versus an Islanders team that averages three goals per contest this season.
The coaches’ move isn’t a shock, since it means that Carey Price will probably start on Thursday night at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning, as they battle it out for the top of the Atlantic Division.
Instead he’ll rest and suit up against Steven Stamkos. So for tomorrow, the forwards should stay the same, and that means that Daniel Carr will be the odd man out again. The reason he is squeezed out is that bottom six have performed well. The defence also won’t have any changes, which means the team will continue to choose Mikhail Sergachev’s spots carefully.
The Shea Weber and Alexei Emelin pairing will continue, and Therrien told media again that the move was a promotion for Emelin rather than a demotion for Nathan Beaulieu. There were no other changes for the Habs at practice today, as they had a quick skate around before heading off to New York.
“We still need to work on it, we need a little more chemistry,” Coch Michel Therrien said of their play. “It would have been too easy to go back to the old formula, but we wanted to stick with our four forwards and one defenseman, and they’re the ones who won it for us tonight.”
The Canadiens have been tough team to handle in this series, but the Islanders are tough at home and they should take advantage of Price being out, unless Montoya can steal the game.