Sports Canadiens at Devils, April 7, 2022: Five things you should know
Stu Cowan: With deadline day in rearview, Canadiens focus on future
Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis now knows exactly what he has to work with. Ahead of Monday’s NHL trade deadline, part of St. Louis’s job was to get the most out of players Kent Hughes was looking to trade while also giving the GM a chance to assess all the players on the roster as he tries to remake the Canadiens. With Tyler Toffoli, Ben Chiarot, Artturi Lehkonen and Brett Kulak gone, St. Louis can focus more on the future during the final month of the season. St. Louis has done a remarkable job since taking over from Dominique Ducharme.
The Canadiens play the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. on Thursday (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM). Here are five things you should know.
The matchup: This is the third and final meeting between these teams and the Canadiens are looking for their first win. They were on the short end of a 7-1 count at the Bell Centre on Feb. 8 and dropped a 3-2 overtime decision at the Prudential Center on March 27. The Canadiens, who are coming off, are tied with Arizona for last place in the NHL. The Devils have picked up at least a point in their last 10 games against Montreal (9-0-1). The Canadiens’ last regulation win over the Devils was a 5-1 victory in New Jersey on Jan. 20, 2017.
Canadiens at Devils, March 27, 2022: Five things you should know
The matchup: This is the second game in a back-to-back situation for each team, but it wasn’t planned that way. This game was originally scheduled for December, but was postponed because of COVID. The Canadiens were at home Saturday and shocked the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2. The Devils were in Washington, where they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Capitals. This is the second of three meetings between the teams with the two worst records in the Eastern Conference. The Devils were 7-1 winners at the Bell Centre on Feb. 8 in Dominique Ducharme’s final game as head coach.
Close but no Carey: The manifest for the Canadiens charter flight Wednesday included Carey Price the goaltender, who has set the record for the longest rehab from a minor knee surgery, will not see action in Jersey or in Toronto on Saturday night. But there is a good chance Price will make his long-awaited season debut when the Canadiens return home next week. He has been taking a regular turn in practice and looks ready. While the Canadiens are waiting for Price, Jake Allen will make his 10th start in 11 games since returning from a groin injury. He has a 3-4-2 record in that stretch while facing an average of more than 40 shots a game.
Revolving door for Jersey goalies: The Devils have used seven goaltenders this season and their top two — Jonathan Bernier and Mackenzie Blackwood — are both on the injured reserve list and have combined for only 42 appearances this season. Nico Daws, who held the Canadiens to two goals in their last meeting, is expected to get the start. The rookie has an 8-11-0 record with a 3.31 goals-against average. Andrew Hammond, who was 3-0 for the Canadiens earlier this year, has made one start since being traded to the Devils and he gave up seven goals in a 7-6 overtime loss to Florida.
About Last Night: St. Louis trusts Barron in shootout loss to Devils
Rem Pitlick scored the game-tying goal with under a minute left in regulation, but the Canadiens came up short in the shootout, losing 3-2 to the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on Sunday. Defenceman Justin Barron made his Habs debut wearing No. 52. Interim head coach Martin St. Louis entrusted the rookie with three shifts on three-on-three overtime. Barron played 17:55 in total, entirely on even-strength. He was paired with Joel Edmundson, who happened to be playing his 400th game in the NHL. After five consecutive starts for Jake Allen, it was Sam Montembeault’s turn in goal and he made 30 saves.
Dee-fence, dee-fence: Nick Suzuki and rookie Cole Caufield have been the Canadiens’ most productive players this season but their defensive play needs to be a lot better. Suzuki, who has 18 goals and a team-high 51 points, is a minus-24. Caufield, who has 16 goals, including 15 in the 25 games since Martin St. Louis became the head coach, is minus-20. Rookie defenceman Justin Barron scored his first NHL goal Tuesday but suffered a leg injury and isn’t on this two-game trip, which continues Saturday in Toronto. Also missing is veteran forward Paul Byron, who suffered an undisclosed injury Tuesday.
Reunion on hold: Former U.S. under-18 teammates Caufield and Jack Hughes won’t have an on-ice reunion in this game. Hughes suffered a sprained MCL ligament in his knee and his season is over. Hughes, who was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2019, is the Devils’ leading goal scorer with 26 and his 56 points are second to Jesper Brett, who has 65 points, including 22 goals. Yegor Sharangovich has 20 goals, Nico Hischier has 19, and rookie Dawson Mercer has 16. Former Canadiens forward Tomas Tatar has 13 goals and 27 points while P.K. Subban has five goals and 21 points and is minus-8. Subban is in the final season of the eight-year deal he signed with the Canadiens and he will be looking for another team when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Canadiens place left wing Jonathan Drouin on LTIR .
If the Vegas Golden Knights’ flurry of moves wasn’t enough to satisfy those yearning for more long-term injured reserve (LTIR) machinations, the Montreal Canadiens have probably helped them out. The Canadiens have placed Jonathan Drouin on LTIR, according to PuckPedia. Drouin has been out since a late March contest against the Boston Bruins, and his season was ended by wrist surgery.