Gameday preview: Canadiens at Senators

Pageau! Pageau! Pageau! Pageau! Pag-oh right, he’s in Binghamton.

Gameday preview: Canadiens at Senators
Raphael Diaz #61 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates his first period goal with teammates during the NHL game against the Dallas Stars at the Bell Centre on October 29, 2013 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Montreal Canadiens (8-7-1)
@
Ottawa Senators (5-6-4)
Canadian Tire Centre: 7:30 pm EST

Storylines…

Pageau! Pageau! Pageau! Pageau! Pag-oh right, he’s in Binghamton.

The Montreal Canadiens return to the nation’s capital for the first time since Carey Price sustained a lower body injury in the final seconds of regulation during game four of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series versus the Sens. Not only would the Habs go on to lose that game in overtime, they would also go on to lose the series in five games.

Despite the organization spending this past offseason attempting to alter this fuelled perception of their franchise as being one that is too small and too soft to have any kind of sustained postseason success, the Habs will return to Ottawa as the NHL’s shortest team.

There’s no doubt the vengeful Habs will be coming out with something to prove.

After being physically dominated and embarrassed by the Senators last spring, the addition of George Parros and, to a lesser extent, Douglas Murray, will make Montreal a bigger and tougher team. And I’m sure Parros will make a pointed attempt to exact some retribution and get his teammates some “respect.”

Speaking of trying to shake reputations, Montreal head coach Michel Therrien hasn’t helped P.K. Subban solidify his candidacy for the Canadian Olympic Team through some questionable usage patterns.

After drawing a boarding penalty with six minutes to go in the third period, Subban was rewarded for a shift on the power play before spending the remainder of regulation on Montreal’s bench watching his teammates preserve a tie. With a point guaranteed, Therrien eventually did let Subban take two shifts in overtime.

While the Subban/Therrien dynamic dominates talk radio in Montreal, here in Ottawa, everyone’s seemingly gushing over the recent play of Erik Karlsson – who looks continues to progress and resemble his pre-injury form. Erik enters tonight’s game on a five-game point streak – tallying four goals and 9 points during this stretch. Karlsson also currently leads all NHL defencemen in scoring with 6 goals and 17 points.

In what’s sure to be billed as a battle of Karlsson versus Subban – the winners of the past two Norris Trophies do share a commonality – they’re often both criticized because their elite offensive capabilities overshadow their respective defensive skillsets and cause individuals to dwell on their on-ice mistakes.

May the loser of tonight’s battle be relegated to forward.

Interesting Stat #1:

Having brought in a new goaltending coach in Stephane Waite, much is being made over the start that Carey Price has had this season and how it should help solidify his spot on the Canadian Olympic Team.

But a closer look at his 2012/13 and 2013/14 splits reveals where the biggest improvement has helped Price’s numbers:

2012/13:
GAA: 2.59
SV%: .905
Even strength SV%: .920
SV% when MTL is shorthanded: .804

2013/14:
GAA: 2.16
SV%: .933
Even strength SV%: .941
SV% when MTL is shorthanded: .899

The old adage is that a goaltender is your best penalty killer and this season, thanks to some regression to the league norm, Price is making more of those timely saves.

Interesting Stat #2:

Ottawa’s power play has a 9.1% success rate at home and a 26.1% success rate on the road. After that ridiculous road trip to start the season, I’ll simply assume it’s because the Senators have had more practice on the road.

Interesting Stat #3:

According to ExtraSkater.com, Montreal’s Andrei Markov is tied for the NHL in lead with Sidney Crosby in Goals For (GF) with 29 each. In other words, there were 29 instances in which these players were on the ice when their team scored a goal. P.K. Subban is tied for third with 28 and Erik Karlsson is tied for seventh with 26.

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