The NHL will be host to seven games on Sunday night to end another weekend of hockey. One of those games will be between the Montreal Canadiens and the Chicago Blackhawks. This game will be on NHL Network at 6:00 PM Eastern Time.
Montreal has had a surprisingly solid start to the season, going 14-10-5. The Canadiens are currently sitting in fourth place of the Atlantic Division. Montreal has played well recently, winning back to back games and three of their last four. The Canadiens will look to keep their winning streak going against a stumbling Chicago team.
The Blackhawks have gone 9-16-5 to begin the new season. Chicago is currently sitting in last place of the Pacific Division. The Blackhawks have really been struggling recently, losing six games in a row. Chicago has fallen pretty hard from the top, but I believe they could sneak out a win at home on Sunday night.
This matchup will be the first of two games between the Canadiens and the Blackhawks. Chicago will look to finally end their losing streak with a home win against the Canadiens. I believe the Blackhawks are to far in a hole to make a playoff push, but I do not believe they will start tanking. Montreal is playing well, but I expect them to be tested on Sunday night.
Last Season’s Matchups
The Blackhawks and the Canadiens met up twice last season. The first matchup between these two teams was hosted by Montreal. Tomas Plekanec opened up the scoring for the Canadiens in the first period, but they were not able to score again. Alex DeBrincat had a goal and an assist to help give Chicago the win. Corey Crawford had 41 saves in route to a 3-1 win on the road.
The second game of the season series was hosted by the Blackhawks. The game stayed scoreless in the first two periods. Jonathan Drouin scored the first goal early in the third, while Joe Morrow added a goal and an assist to help give the Canadiens a road win. Charlie Lindgren had a 38 shot shutout to give Montreal the win.
Each team was able to win on the road last season. Neither team would go on to make the playoffs last season as both teams had poor seasons. Montreal is much more competitive this season, but the lack of times that these two teams see each other could lead to a close game.
Montreal’s special teams have not been great this season. The Canadiens power play has been producing at a rate of 14 percent. Montreal’s penalty kill has not been much better, stopping their opponent’s 78 percent of the time. This should be a slight concern for Montreal if they want to compete for a playoff spot. The Canadiens need to be above average on at least the power play or the penalty kill if they want to make a playoff run.
While the Canadiens have been pretty bad on special teams, Chicago has been even worse. The Blackhawks power play is scoring only 11.5 percent of the time. Chicago’s penalty kill has stopped opposing teams’ power plays 73 percent of the time. The Blackhawks poor special teams play has played a large part in their poor start to the season.
The edge on special team has to go to the Canadiens, but with how poor both teams’ special teams are, either team could put up a solid game. The Blackhawks have done a solid job of staying out of the box this season, which means that Montreal may only have a chance or two to score on the power play.
I expect Carey Price to get the nod in net for the Canadiens on Sunday night. Price has gone 10-8-4 in his 22 starts this season. In those games, Price has posted a .900 save percentage and a GAA of 2.96. These numbers are not terrible, but by Price’s standards they could be much better.
Corey Crawford will likely start for Chicago on Sunday night. Crawford has posted a save percentage of .902 and a 3.22 GAA this season. He has a record of 5-13-1 in his 19 starts. Crawford has not gotten a lot of help from his defense this season, but if the Blackhawks can back him up on Sunday night it might help them break the losing streak.
Neither goalie has been spectacular this season, but Montreal has to have the edge because of their defense. The Canadiens give more help to Price, which leaves less rebounds and quality chances in comparison to Crawford. The Blackhawks still have some solid players on their back end and they need to step up if they want to finish off this losing streak.
Coming into Sunday night’s matchup, the Blackhawks are looking for anything to grab onto. I believe that this is a solid game for them to break this losing streak though. All losing streaks come to an end and as far as matchups go, this is one of the more even ones for Chicago. The Canadines have not had spectacular goaltending or special teams, which means they do not get huge advantages over the Blackhawks.
BetOnline has Montreal listed as a -113 against the money line. This implies that the Canadiens will win this game 53 percent of the time. The Canadiens are the better team this season, but like I said, this seems like a prime game for the Blackhawks to end their losing streak. Chicago will need a solid team effort if they are going to win, but there is some value on them as home underdogs against Montreal.