There isn't a team out there that's been more consistent than the Montreal Canadiens, and tonight the Ducks (10-8-4, 24 pts.) will be put to the ultimate test as they look to topple the league leaders. John Gibson was the first goaltender off for the Ducks this morning, so it appears he'll get the start. Montreal opted to forego the pregame skate, but they'll be going with Carey Price.
The Canadiens, who enter tonight's contest with just six losses of any kind through 22 games (16-4-2, 34 pts.), earned at least one point in each of their first 10 games this season for the fourth time in franchise history (also 1943-44: 11-0-3; 1972-73: 9-0-4; and 1981-82: 6-0-4).
Andrew Cogliano says this is a measuring stick game for the Ducks, who have battled with inconsistency but have shown they can rise to the occasion. "This is as good of a team as you're going to see in the league right now," he said. "We'll see where we're at as a team and how far we've come, but we can't overthink it."
Montreal's stats are staggering, perhaps none more impressive than the numbers Price has put together thus far. The 29-year-old is the only goaltender in the Canadiens' 99-year NHL history to win 13 of his first 15 appearances in a season (13-1-1, 1.66 GAA, .946 SV%).
Corey Perry knows him well, having been teammates with Price on Team Canada for the 2014 Winter Olympics and the World Cup of Hockey Tournament held this past September. "He's a world-class goalie and everybody knows it," said Perry. "He's a guy who can steal games at any point in a season or a tournament. I've seen it firsthand."
Price suffered his lone regulation loss of the season a week ago today in a 4-3 defeat at home against the Ottawa Senators. "You have to get after him," adds Perry. "You have to get shots, rebounds and convert on your opportunities."
The Habs, of course, made headlines this past summer when they acquired Shea Weber from the Nashville Predators in exchange for PK Subban. While the blockbuster trade certainly raised a few eyebrows around the league, Weber has been everything the Canadiens could've hoped for. He ranks second among NHL defensemen in points (18) and co-leads in goals (8). Seven of those eight goals have come on the power play, which is also a league-high for d-men. His bomb from the point is arguably his strongest asset, and it's been clocked at over 100 mph. He's also averaging over 25 minutes a game - 25:48 to be exact.
"We saw lots of Shea when he was in Nashville, so we know the impact he has on the backend," said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle. "He's a dominant, elite-level defenseman who is going to play 25-plus minutes. We're going to have to make sure we pay special attention to him, get close to him and limit his time and space as much as possible."
Potential Line Combinations
Video: The Ducks preview the matchup with the Canadiens