CANADIENS (17-8-2) @ BLACKHAWKS (16-8-1)
The Canadiens will be looking to bounce back against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, just two days after being edged by the Wild in Minnesota on Wednesday.
Winners of just one of their last five games, the Habs will need a strong effort in Chicago to top a Blackhawks team which won 5-0 earlier this season in Montreal, snapping a six-game Canadiens winning streak at the time.
Head coach Michel Therrien has made a number of changes to the Habs’ roster in the Windy City. Dale Weise replaces P.-A. Parenteau alongside Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais, while Parenteau joins new linemates Lars Eller and Jiri Sekac. Brandon Prust meanwhile, will be paired with Manny Malhotra and Eric Tangradi.
On defense, Mike Weaver is back in the lineup, replacing Bryan Allen who is a healthy scratch.
Carey Price is expected to get the start at the United Center. Over the course of his career, the 27-year-old netminder has registered three wins and a pair of losses against the Blackhawks.
Coming off a 4-1 win against the Blues on Wednesday, Joel Quenneville’s squad will try to make it five in a row against the Habs, after also stringing together wins against the Kings, Ducks and Avalanche over the past week, scoring 15 goals over that span while allowing just five.
Following a tough start to the season, Chicago is back in the race for first place. Winners of eight of their last ten, the Blackhawks also present an NHL-best plus-29 goal differential.
Offensively, the Hawks are ranked seventh overall for goals scored as Patrick Kane and Kris Versteeg have been producing an average of one point per game this year.
On defense meanwhile, Chicago has allowed an average of just 1.96 goals per game this season, ranking first overall in the category as the only team to sit below 2.0.
A contributing factor to that success has been goaltender Corey Crawford, although coming off a recent leg injury, the Chateauguay, QC native will now be sidelined for the next two to three weeks.
Antti Raanta, who has also impressed with a 1.77 GAA and 0.947 save percentage, will take his place in goal.
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The Numbers Game - December 3, 2014