|It has been a roller coaster so far this season in Montreal, and the fan base has been crying out for change in the wake of a disappointing start to 2011-12. Much was made of the Canadiens’ 1-6-2 start and head coach Jacques Martin was the center of heavy speculation. Rather than make a head coaching change, Montreal GM Pierre Gauthier opted to relieve assistant coach Perry Pearn of his duties on Oct. 26. |
Since Pearn’s dismissal, the Canadiens have rebounded with a 10-5-3 record and have cleaned up their special teams – one of the main reasons Gauthier opted to make the change. They have played their best hockey on the road (7-6-1 away) but have struggled within the confines of the Bell Centre, scoring just one goal in three of their first five home games. Currently in 10th place in the East – and tied for the eighth-most points – the Canadiens and Martin are looking for consistency in the scoring department to climb the standings.
They are led by Brian Gionta, the American captain who has become a fan favorite in Montreal. At forward, the Canadiens are led in scoring by shifty center Tomas Plekanec who has recorded 22 points in 27 games. Young power forward Max Pacioretty, a product of the University of Michigan, is the top goal-scorer for Montreal with 10. Surprisingly, it has been an early-season slump for sniper Mike Cammalleri, who has only potted six goals in the first quarter of the year and missed time to injury.
Gauthier signed former Carolina Hurricanes forward Erik Cole to a four-year contract this summer, hoping to bolster his forward group and bring some presence to the power play. Though it took a while for Cole to get going, he’s currently tied for second in Canadiens’ goal-scoring with eight.
Travis Moen has been an offensive surprise for the Canadiens in the bottom six, who also get contributions from bright young forward David Desharnais, who has shot up the organizational depth chart in a short period of time.
On defense, P.K. Subban is the flashy workhorse for Martin and he brings a lively two-way game to the Canadiens blue line. After Subban, they are missing veteran Andrei Markov due to knee surgery and are relying on Josh Gorges, Hal Gill, Yannick Weber and Raphael Diaz to pick up the slack.
In goal, Carey Price has been excellent for Montreal with a 10-8-5 record and 2.23 goals-against average. Former Colorado netminder Peter Budaj was signed in the offseason to be Price’s backup.
| || || |
|Nash (8) ||Pacioretty (10) |
|Prospal (14) ||Plekanec (16) |
|Prospal (20) ||Plekanec (22) |
|Dorsett (64) ||Subban (35) |
|MacKenzie (+6) ||Gorges (+12) |
|Sanford (4-3-2) |
|Price (10-8-5) |
|Sanford (2.10) ||Price (2.23) |
|Sanford (.926) ||Price (.919) || |
|• The Blue Jackets will close out a four-game road trip tonight at Montreal, after going 1-2-0 in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. After opening the season 2-12-1, Columbus has posted a 5-4-2 mark its last 11 games. |
• Derek Dorsett had a career night this past Friday at Edmonton. He registered the first multi-goal game of his NHL career with two goals, while his first goal was the first shorthanded goal of his NHL career. The second goal gave him five for the season, which is a career high. His previous best was four, set three times previously.
• Tonight marks lone meeting this season between the Blue Jackets and Canadiens. Columbus is 5-4-1 all-time against Montreal, including a 3-2-1 mark at Bell Centre. The Blue Jackets have won two of the last three meetings between the clubs, although the Canadiens won the most recent meeting in Montreal (5-3 on Nov. 24, 2009).
• The Blue Jackets have gone 9-for-51 (17.6 percent) on the power play the last 12 games after going 6-for-65 (9.2 percent) the season’s first 14 games. The penalty kill has killed off 14-of-16 (87.5 percent) opponent power plays the last six games after going 18-of-25 (72.0 percent) the previous seven games.
• The Canadiens have two players on their current roster who have previously played with Columbus, defenseman Jaroslav Spacek and left winger Mathieu Darche. The Blue Jackets have one former Canadien on their roster in defenseman James Wisniewski.