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Montreal Canadiens

A New York Islanders night without John Tavares

The Montreal Canadiens will be looking to bounce back from a frustrating loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning with the New York Islanders in sight.

For the first in eight years, the Montreal Canadiens will face off against a New York Islanders team without John Tavares. The 28-year-old had a good amount of success against the Habs in his career putting up 25 points in 29 games (ignoring the season opener in Toronto). But even though he is no longer there, the Islanders still have threats Montreal needs to watch out for.

In particular, the team’s top line of Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and Josh Bailey. The trio has taken control of the Islanders’ offence this season that has seen them join the Montreal Canadiens as being one of the surprise teams in the league. Bailey is on the top of the chain with three (3) goals and 12 assists in 13 games followed by Lee who is sporting five (5) goals and eight (assists).

The trickle-down effect continues throughout the lineup which also matches with Montreal’s success.

The Islanders are currently at the top of the Metropolitan Division with an 8-4-1 record. Who saw that coming? They’re also on a five-game winning streak, doing away with the Flyers, Devils, Hurricanes, and the Pittsburgh Penguins (twice). Additionally, the goal-scoring is coming along fairly strong outscoring their opponents 20-7.

Goaltending is another factor. Thomas Greiss and Robin Lehner have been solid posting .944, and .928 save percentage respectively. But that speaks to the downside which may make their winning ways a bit of a facade.

The Islanders have the highest PDO in the league at 1.052. As a quick note, PDO is a stat that takes into account a team’s shooting percentage and save percentage putting it into a single number which sits or deviates from 1.000. A team with a PDO under 1.000 is getting a good deal of bad luck and may not be as poor as their record seems. The Montreal Canadiens had a poor one last season, and if you watched the number of times pucks weren’t going in for them, you would agree.

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If a team has a PDO significantly over the threshold, they’re getting all the bounces, and their success isn’t necessarily sustainable throughout the season. The Islanders get the hat there.

For the Habs to end the streak, they’ll have to break through New York’s current stonewall goaltending and limit the number of chances they allow. Defensive issues have been a problem over the last two games for Montreal even though there have been two different results in the win column. As long as the players tighten the screws and avoid drastic turnovers, they’ll give themselves a chance to perform well.

Max Domi is leading the Montreal Canadiens in scoring with seven (7) goals and six (assists). He’s been on a bit of run offensively as five (5) of those goals have come in the last five (5) games. Brendan Gallagher is still leading the way and is on the brink of hitting double-digit goals if he scores another one.

The team didn’t practice on Sunday, so it’ll be a guessing game as to what the lines and pairings look like. Odds are Claude Julien runs with the same lineup he had against the Lightning that saw Charles Hudon on the second line with Domi and Jonathan Drouin while Artturi Lehkonen was moved to the third line with Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Joel Armia.

Next: Hudon on the Trade Block?

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It’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top tonight in Brooklyn. A win can put the Montreal Canadiens back in a top-three spot in the Atlantic Division and knock Boston back down.

Game Start: 7:00 PM ET/ 4:00 PM PDT

Watch: TSN2/RDS

Listen: 98.5 FM/TSN 690

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