Game Preview: Kraken versus Canadiens (Again!)

We can still call it a revenge tour if he’s not there, right?

The Need to Knows

Time: 4:30 pm PT / 6:30 pm ET

The Place: Bell Centre, Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Where to Watch: ROOT-NW, Sportsnet or RDS (en francais) in Canada, Streaming: ESPN+/Sportsnet+ (if out of market)

Where to Listen: KJR 93.3

Know Your Enemy

Oh how the turn tables! Fourth overall pick Shane Wright returns to the Kingston Frontenacs cloaked in glory. Fresh off captaining Team Canada to a World Junior gold, he will be looking to return to the National Hockey League for good next season. Meanwhile, Juraj Slafkovský remains with the Montréal Canadiens but has struggled to end the calendar year, his last goal coming on December 1st.

The book won’t be fully written on the 2022 Entry Draft for years to come, but it appears much closer than it might have back in October. And while both teams were in the lottery last season, their 2022-23’s have looked very different. The Canadiens look destined for another top five pick, potentially Wright’s recent teammate Connor Bedard if the lottery balls are kind, Kraken fans have significantly raised their expectations, with playoffs almost the minimum for Seattle’s sophomore season to be called a success.

Montréal netminder Jake Allen has struggled as well, winning only 9 of 25 starts. His goals against average sits at 3.52, which is slightly worse than backup goalie Sam Montembeault’s 3.44. With his team only putting 2.61 goals past the opposition on average, Montreal’s problems seem pretty clear. Allen has historically been a great second goalie, but fades in the starting role and that trend continues with his latest team, but he isn’t the only one underperforming in 2022-23.

The Canadiens’ goal differential is -41, the fourth worst in the NHL. Their team plus/minus is a combined -142, and while the top end of the lineup has decent advanced statistics, the team’s overall picture is a negative one. The Canadiens managed to beat the Kraken last time, but this should be two points the Kraken put in the bank four nights out of five.

Game Preview

Bad teams are fragile, even at the NHL level, so a fast start and and early goal or two will go a long way toward getting the win. But in spite of losing seven of their last eight, the Habs’ roster is full of NHL players, names like Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki and Josh Anderson, each of whom are capable of putting up points on any night.

The Kraken’s penalty kill (68.9%) is their Achilles heel this season, sitting amongst the league’s worst, but that’s balanced by the fact that Montréal’s powerplay is the league’s least efficient (14.8%). That said, any coach will tell you that it’s still a good idea to stay out of the box. Winning the special teams battle should all but guarantee a win on Monday night.

This will be Montréal’s fourth game in seven days, which you might think would benefit the Kraken, but our boys will be playing their seventh in fifteen (and the Kraken face Buffalo Tuesday). That kind of compact schedule means we can expect things to get a little messy in the 3rd period as both team’s tanks get low. Bringing a two or three goal lead into that portion of the game would be a great idea.

There you have it. Score early, score often, and don’t take any silly penalties. Seems simple enough. Now let’s get Kraken!