The Pittsburgh Penguins look to get their first win of the season in the first home game of the year tonight against the Montreal Canadiens.
Game time: 7:00 PM
TV: Root Sports
Last year: The Pens went 2-1 vs Montreal last year; a 4-0 Pittsburgh win November 18, a 1-4 loss Jan 3rd repaid with a 2-1 OT Pittsburgh win Jan 10 to end the season series.
This year: After tonight's game, Montreal comes back to town on Wed Nov 11 and then the season series will finish out Saturday Jan 9 for a "Hockey Night in Canada" primetime event. Sort of sad the Penguins only play once in Montreal this year, as it's many players' favorite venues to go to
SBN Montreal blog: The highest trafficked blog on the network: Habs Eyes on the Prize
Canadiens expected lines
Max Pacioretty - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher
Lars Eller - Alex Galchenyuk - Alex Semin
Tomas Fleischmann - David Desharnais - Dale Weise
Brian Flynn - Torrey Mitchell - Devante Smith-Pelly
Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban
Alexei Emelin - Jeff Petry
Nathan Beaulieu - Tom Gilbert
Montreal is rocking and rolling early in the season, off to a 3-0-0 start where they've scored 10 goals and only conceded 4. 5 players (Subban, Galchenyuk, Plekanec, Pacioretty and Markov) have at least a point per game in the early going.
To make matters sweeter for the Habs, all of their wins have come against division rivals (Toronto, Boston and Ottawa) and they've all come on the road. It's one thing to win the first three games of the year, but to do so fairly easily in your biggest rival's house has to be very satisfying.
Then again, of those teams only Ottawa made the playoffs last season (and even then, just barely) so it's not as if they have had to play any powerhouses just yet.
Guy I've never heard of
5-10 years ago I thought I knew every bit player, prospect and guy around. Now, I see lineups and think "hey, who is that?". So let's research that
I have heard of him, but the most "under the radar" type guy on the Habs is one that probably won't play a lot. 25 year old backup goalie Mike Condon has come a long way since he played 39 games for the Wheeling Nailers back in 2013-14. He made his NHL debut on Sunday stopping 20 of 21 in a winning effort. Not a bad debut at all.
Guy you should keep an eye on
Impress your friends with some trivia and trivial knowledge
#27 Alex Galchenyuk seems poised for a breakout season this year. The 21 year old is was the #3 overall pick in 2012 (the Olli Maatta / Derrick Pouliot draft) and is already in his 4th NHL season. He has improved his production and numbers every season (up to 20 goals, 46 points last year) and is now playing at his natural center position for the first extended time in the NHL. So far this season he's been great with a goal and 3 assists, and the addition of guys Montreal got off the scrap heap in Semin and Fleischmann should provide plenty of proven NHL talent for him to play with this season.
Galchenyuk is a good skater, very shifty and is dynamic with the puck. He's got a good shot but also the vision and able to be a natural playmaker as well. If he stays healthy he should end up in the 55-60+ point area this season.
Looking at the ex-Penguins on tonight's opponent
The only former Pittsburgh Penguin is the man behind the bench, Michel Therrien. The 52 year old Therrien is in his 4th season now in his second stint as Montreal's head coach, after he was coach of the Pens for parts of 4 seasons from 2005-09. He's won division championships in 2 of his last 3 seasons with Montreal, and has won 3 playoff series in the past 2 years.
Often maligned for some of his decisions, tactics and stern personality, Therrien at least has strung together solid regular seasons, like 2 straight 100 points seasons in the past 2 years. Generally speaking, most Habs fans are neutral-to-negative about Therrien being the guy that will steer the ship back to the Stanley Cup, but it seems like they could do a lot worse for the pressures of winning in that market
Infographic from the Pens