Guess what: yesterday was Monday. You know what that means: it’s Tuesday.
Now that we’re on the same page, let’s get to why we’re really here: to watch hockey. The action gets underway at the usual 7 p.m. starting time with a couple games (St. Louis at Boston [NBCSN/SN] and Carolina at Toronto), followed half an hour later by two more (Ottawa at Montréal [RDS/RDS2] and Philadelphia at Florida [TVAS]). After those games are over, the New York Islanders at Anaheim (SN) gets green-lit at 10 p.m. All times eastern.
There’s a couple good games this evening, but the one I’m more excited for is happening north of the border.
It may not officially have been these Senators that played the Canadiens in the first-ever NHL game in 1917, but since Ottawa returned to the league in ’92, this rivalry has also returned to form, specifically with two playoff meetings in three seasons. Although words were exchanged in both those series, things truly came to a point when P.K. Subban broke Mark Stone‘s wrist with a slash in the 2015 Eastern Quarterfinals. In Game 1. The defenseman may have moved on this off-season, but something tells me Stone has a particularly bad taste in his mouth every time he this red sweater.
Ottawa enters the Bell Centre with a 10-7-1 record, pinning them in fourth place in the Atlantic Division. What worries me about the Senators this season is that they have a lot of trouble finding scoring, managing only 37 goals so far this season.
As has been true the last four seasons, defenseman Erik Karlsson leads the Sens in scoring with 14 points, but Kyle Turris has been the one completing Karlsson’s plays with a team-leading eight goals. While the leaders’ numbers aren’t necessarily poor, it’s the fact that only 16 skaters have gotten involved in the scoring this year, leaving the Senators with the second-fewest goals in the league.
It’s probably no coincidence that Ottawa also ranks second-worst in the league on their power play, successful on only 9.4% of their attempts.
While offense has been an issue, the Sens have found success defensively, specifically on the penalty kill. Ottawa is home to the third-best kill, neutralizing 88.5% of their infractions.
Playing host this evening are the league-leading 14-3-2 Canadiens. They’ve certainly been impressive to earn that standing, but I’ve especially liked their offensive efforts, as their 60 goals ties for third-most in the NHL.
Alex Galchenyuk has been nearly unstoppable so far this campaign, notching 19 points to average a point-per-game. Impressive. Maybe even more impressive, three different skaters (Paul Byron, Galchenyuk and Shea Weber) have notched seven goals, which ties for the club-lead.
Montréal‘s power play has certainly been something to see as well. Ranking fifth-best in the league, the Habs have found success on 22.8% of their man-advantages, led by Weber’s eight power play points.
Some players to watch this evening include Montréal‘s Galchenyuk (19 points [tied for seventh-most in the league] for a +12 [tied for eighth-best in the NHL]), Carey Price (11 wins [tied for the league lead] on 1.58 GAA and a .95 save percentage [both third-best in the NHL], including two shutouts [tied for fifth-most in the league]) and Weber (+16 [third-best in the NHL]) & Ottawa‘s Craig Anderson (two shutouts [tied for fifth-most in the league] among eight wins [tied for ninth-most in the NHL]).
I think we’ve got another game with no line, but something tells me I didn’t look in the right spot today. While I do respect Ottawa‘s defense, Montréal is easily the superior team in tonight’s contest. Plan on the Habs defending home ice and earning two points.
- Albert Leduc (1902-1990) – How convenient that a defenseman that played for both of today’s featured clubs was born today? Most of his time was spent with the Habs, where he hoisted the Stanley Cup twice.
- Jacques Laperriere (1941-) – Another Canadien defenseman, Laperrière hoisted the Cup five times and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987.
- Yvan Cournoyer (1943-) – You guessed it, another Hab. Cournoyer played right wing for 16 seasons, and won the Cup eight times in the process. He also won the 1973 Smythe Trophy with 15 goals to go with his 10 assists in 17 playoff games.
Colorado keeps surprising me. They’ve been featured in the DtFR Game of the Day series twice. I’ve picked against them twice. Yet they’ve come away from both those games with four total points.
Columbus opened the scoring with the only goal of the first period. Exactly nine minutes after beginning the game, First Star of the Game Cam Atkinson (Brandon Dubinsky and Brandon Saad) gave the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead with a tip-in tally.
The Avalanche pulled even 3:05 into the second period with a Tyson Barrie (Mikko Rantanen and Carl Soderberg) slap shot. The nine minute mark seems to be magic in Nationwide Arena, but not always for the home side. Erik Johnson (Nathan MacKinnon and Fedor Tyutin) scored his first goal of the year to give Colorado a 2-1 lead.
Columbus scored their game-tying goal by the skin of their teeth, waiting until only seven seconds remained in regulation before Atkinson (Sam Gagner and Zach Werenski) buried a snap shot to force overtime.
In his first game back after missing four with a concussion, Third Star Matt Duchene (Johnson) picked up right where he wanted with a snap shot 1:49 after beginning the three-on-three overtime period to earn the Avs a road victory.
With our second-straight game that extended beyond regulation, the DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 24-12-7, favoring the home clubs by 11 points over the roadies.