Carey Price tried to bail his team on out last night, but it wasn’t enough. All the Canadiens had to do was find the back of the net once in regulation to bring it to overtime, though that wasn’t the case. The Minnesota Wild held on for a 1-0 win in Montreal, as the Canadiens’ offence obviously struggled to get anything generated. For much of the first-half of the season, that hasn’t been a problem for the Canadiens.
Their problem was Price playing like a second-tier goaltender. Now that he’s been playing better, the Canadiens can’t just sit back and rely on him. It’s almost like they sense he’s turning it around, so they can sit back and let him carry the load. That’s not going to work out, despite that probably being many people’s expectations for this team before the season started.
The emergence of Max Domi and a fast offence right from the get-go on opening night had people thinking otherwise quickly, though. Maybe they could just compete with a fast-paced attack? For the most part it has worked for the Canadiens, but we’ve been starting to see some inconsistencies with them. They scored an average of 4.6 goals per game between December 22nd and December 29th.
After that the most they’ve scored is 3 goals in four games. Price is getting back to form, but they cannot allow the offence to slip, or they’re going to slip right out of the playoff picture. The Habs are currently a point behind the Sabres for the final wildcard, so nothing ha changed with the Sabres off last night. Meanwhile, the Wings are in the Jack Hughes’ sweepstakes at the back of the league. They have shown some fight, though, and came close to knocking off the Capitals the other night. Head below for our free Canadiens vs. Red Wings pick.
Montreal Canadiens vs. Detroit Red Wings Pick
Price stopped 24 of 25 shots last night, but that performance did not get the Canadiens at least a point. Devan Dubnyk stopped all 32 shots and earned the shutout at the Bell Centre on Monday. Price is likely looking at getting the night off in Detroit tonight. In his place will be backup Antti Niemi, who has to be better in relief duty for the Canadiens.
It’s important to have a capable backup in the NHL these days, and Niemi is not an ideal second option in Montreal. Niemi has posted a 4.01 GAA and 0.881 save percentage thus far. His last outing on New Year’s Eve against the Stars may have been his best of the year. For the first time this season, Niemi allowed less than 3 goals in a game. He had allowed 5.3 goals per game in his previous three going into that contest.
Tuesday night should present a nice opportunity for the Montreal offence to spring to life. With three of their starting defencemen on the shelf, the Red Wings have been trying to patch together a serviceable blue line. Mike Green is nearing a return, but it most likely isn’t coming tonight.
Without much help, Detroit has allowed 3.5 goals per game in their last ten games and 4.3 in their previous seven. It was a solid effort against the Capitals, but they couldn’t hold them back in the 3rd. After such an abysmal offensive showing last night, the Canadiens should find it easier to generate scoring chances against the Red Wings tonight.
Note that there has been an average of 8.6 goals scored in their previous five meetings, with all five going OVER the total. Also, the OVER has gone 6-1 in the Red Wings’ last seven games, as their defence has struggled with no Green or DeKeyser in the lineup. Niemi has been such a head case, though, so the OVER looks like the play here.