Game #28 Preview: Cassé

Maxim Lapierre makes his eaglerly-awaited return to the Bell Centre tonight

Game Day Recon: Game #28 – Canucks @ Le Club Hockey Canadien

The Vancouver Canucks find themselves in Montreal tonight. In one forgotten era, this would be a game the Canucks would be lucky to find themselves come out of unscathed if they only lost by five goals, but the current Montreal Canadiens are not your father’s Flying Frenchmen of yesteryear. The Habs are struggling to score goals, and are 10th in the NHL’s Eastern Conference.

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As this game is in Québec, I am required by law to translate the opening paragraph.

Les Canucks de Vancouver se trouve en Montréal ce soir. Autrefois, ce serai une soirée ou les Canucks aurait être chanceux de perdre par seulement cinq buts, mais le Canadien des temps moderne ne sont pas les “Flying Frenchmen” de papa. Les “Habs” est une équipe qui à des troubles a compter des buts, et est en 10ième place de le Conérence Est de le LNH.


Game Time: 4:30 PM PT

TV: SN-VAN Radio: Team1040


Luckily for Montreal, they have a hot goalie in Carey Price who has a season even strength save percentage of .923 and three consecutive quality starts. They’ll need all the help they can get against the Canucks, who have chased the opponent’s goaltender in three straight games (although technically Calgary’s Henrik Karlsson left to injury, he still allowed five goals in that game). Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette has confirmed it will be Price against Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo tonight, who left last game after getting struck in the throat with the puck.

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Other than Price, Montreal has been an underwhelming team. They’ve been good at controlling the puck and have a score-tied Fenwick percentage of 51.6%, good for 9th in the entire NHL. Unfortunately for le club, they can’t shoot. Nothing has been going in for them. Do you want to know who Montreal’s leading point-getter is? Tomas Plekanec, with 19 23. They will have Max Pacioretty back in the lineup, however, who faced a three-game suspension for running into Kris Letang last Saturday.

Also, Montreal is small, guys. They have a lot of really small forwards. Like Brian Gionta. And David Desharnais.

Now, the Canucks have had a bit of trouble in Montreal in the past couple of years, particularly scoring goals. They’ve lost their last three appearances at the Centre Bell by a combined score of 8-2. Not since January 16, 2007, did the Canucks skate away with a win, which, as you may recall, was after Luongo shut out the Habs after taking a puck in the throat and spending the night in the hospital.

For narrative purposes, if Luongo has a good game, that may mean something.

NOTES: The Canucks will play their first game of the season without David Booth, out 4-6 weeks with an MCL sprain. His spot in the lineup will be taken by Bill Sweatt in his first NHL game. Chris Higgins is still out and the Canucks will likely skate with seven defensemen, with Aaron Rome possibly moving up to take the fourth line winger role. Gideon Zelermeyer will sing the National Anthem.


Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:

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  1. Score more goals than the other team: A lot of times, the teams that scores a lot of goals wins the game. The Canucks can create those goals by taking a lot of shots, some of which will be scoring chances. 
  2. In all seriousness, they need to play well in front of Roberto Luongo tonight, who may be a bit shaken up from that puck hitting him square in the throat the other night. Vancouver did not start well two nights ago, giving up 12 shots in the first period against Colorado and 13 in the first period against Calgary. Montreal has the ability to generate those shots on goal, and, while they don’t seem to score a lot of goals, you really don’t want to play with fire on the road.
  3. Powerplay. Montreal has the best penalty-kill in the league, (well 2nd, according to traditional stats. Best according to advanced) The Canucks PP in recent games, while scoring a couple of goals, has looked awful at times. They didn’t generate anything on the 5-minute PP against the Avalanche and looked dead in the water against Calgary before that fluke goal by Kevin Bieksa. Those are the types of goals that don’t go in against Montreal on the PK, and, as this game is probably going to be pretty low-scoring, the Canucks are better off if they can bank one up a man.

Finally, what the hell is this?