The Canadiens (19-7-4) and Capitals (19-7-3) square off for the first time this season Saturday night at Verizon Center. Puck drop is 7:00PM.
The Canadiens got off to a blistering start this season (best start in franchise history), posting a 9-0-1 record through the first ten games. Goalie Carey Price has been “Price-like” through the first third of the season, registering a 16-3-2 record in his first 21 starts, with a .940 save percentage and a 1.80 GAA.
The blockbuster Suban-for-Weber trade appears to be in the rear view mirror for the Habs faithful. Weber has been strong for the Canadiens through the first quarter of the season, as the Habs have taken on more of a gritty, sand paper persona this season.
The Habs will be playing the second game of a back-to-back set against the Caps, and Price got the start Friday night in Montreal. The original plan was to have Al Montoya face the Caps on Saturday. Montoya is 3-3-2 in eight games played, with a .903 save percentage and a 3.09 GAA. However, Price was pulled in the Friday night game after giving up four goals to the Sharks. The Habs announced late Friday that Price would get the start against the Caps.
Price was not happy, being pulled from the game. He was spotted staring down his own bench as he left the rink Friday night.
Carey Price stares down the Habs bench after getting pulled. Shades of Patrick Roy pic.twitter.com/yLaVHUFB4a
— Michael Mazzei (@MichaelMazzei3) December 17, 2016
So the stage is set for one of the best goalie matchups in some time, as Carey Price and Braden Holtby face-off at Verizon Center Saturday night.
Even though the team has been racking up the wins, the Habs special teams have been fairly average this season. The Canadiens power play is currently ranked 12th in the league with a 19.8% conversion rate. The Habs penalty kill is currently 18th in the league, with an 80.9% success rate for a combined special teams index of 100.7.
Habs centermen have been hit with recent injuries. Forward Alex Galchenyuk is out indefinitely (lower-body injury). Galchenyuk was injured on December 4th in a collision with Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar. The Habs are also missing the services of centerman David Desharnais, who suffered a knee injury in Tuesday ‘s tilt with the Blues. He is expected to be out 6-8 weeks.
The Canadiens announced on Friday that Andrew Shaw would not make the trip to Washington, suffering from concussion symptoms discovered Thursday afternoon.
— Michael Mazzei (@MichaelMazzei3) November 30, 2016
The Capitals are riding a 6-game win streak, after pulling out a shootout win in Carolina on Friday night. The Capitals are pedaling as fast as they can, just to keep up with the rest of the Metropolitan Division. The standings, at close of play on Friday night:
As noted, the Capitals are also playing the second game of a back-to-back set, having played the Hurricanes in Raleigh on Friday night. Philipp Grubauer got the 4-3 win.
The Capitals power play is starting to find itself as of late. After starting the season in a fog, the power play is starting to heat up, currently 13th in the league at 19.4% conversion rate. The penalty kill is up to 8th in the league at an 83.7% success rate, for a combined special teams index of 103.1, their highest index of the season so far.
News broke Friday evening that Zach Sanford was scratched in the Bear’s game, and was on his way back to Washington. He will be officially recalled Saturday morning.
Data certainly points to this contest being a low scoring affair. With both teams in the top five in fewest goals allowed per game, coupled with high-caliber goaltending and extremely stingy defense, will likely quiet the Verizon center lamps on Saturday.
With both teams playing the second game of a back-to-back set, the advantage, if any, could reside with the home team.
- Justin Williams continues his hot streak with a goal. He has five goals in the last five games.
- Evgeny continues to heat up, extending his point streak to six-games (eight points during that span).
By Jon Sorensen