Lines and D pairings – November 15

Lines and D pairings - November 15
Canadiens @ Flames: Start time, Tale of the Tape, and how to watch
A battle between two struggling No. 1 goalies with Carey Price expected to start for the Canadiens and Mike Smith for the Flames.

he Canadiens' Max Domi extended his point streak to seven games when he scored against the Oilers, giving him 5-6-11 totals during that span. JASON FRANSON / THE CANADIAN PRESS

1. Head coach Claude Julien described Tuesday nights 6-2 loss in Edmonton as the “worst game of the season” so far, making Thursday nights contest in Calgary a big one. The Canadiens will have to find a way to correct the key mistakes that have afforded their opponents prime scoring opportunities of late, and subsequently made them pay. At practice on Wednesday, Julien stressed the importance of getting back to doing the little things right. “Weve slipped a lot in parts of our game which allows other teams to get more offense going and more scoring chances, and were giving up more goals,” mentioned the Habs bench boss. “Its little details that teams pay attention to that makes the difference, and weve slipped away from those.” Both Carey Price and Antti Niemi need the assistance of those charged with playing in front of them, which is something Julien emphasized as well. “We arent doing the right things that we did at the beginning of the year that kept the scoring chances down,” he explained. “Thats what we have to do to help our goalie, and our goalie will make the saves to help us. Thats why were called a team.”

CALGARY — Here are five things to watch when the Canadiens (9-6-3) play the Calgary Flames (10-7-1) Thursday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome (9 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio):

2. Speaking of the Habs netminders, it appears that Price will be the Canadiens starter on Thursday night. While Julien didnt confirm that the six-time All-Star would get the nod, he did mention that there was a “good possibility” that it would be him. Price watched from the bench as Niemi started the Canadiens last two games against Vegas and Edmonton, respectively. In 12 career games against Calgary, Price owns a 6-5-1 record, along with a 2.64 goals-against average, a .910 save percentage and one shutout. He bested the Flames earlier this season, turning aside 21 of 23 shots in a 3-2 win on October 23rd at the Bell Centre. Julien will likely confirm Prices status at Thursdays morning skate, which gets underway at 1:30 p.m. ET (11:30 a.m. MT).

Price expected to start: Carey Price, who has been struggling with the mental part of his game, is expected to be back in goal for the Canadiens after sitting out the last two games while Antti Niemi played. Price has allowed at least four goals in each of his last four games (19 in total) and has a 1-3-1 record in his last five starts. Asked after practice Wednesday whether he learned anything while watching Niemi, who allowed six goals on 43 shots in Tuesday night’s 6-2 loss to the Oilers in Edmonton, Price said: “It’s always good to watch the game. Obviously, it’s not fun losing like that, especially watching. But even when things got bleak Antti didn’t give up and that’s a good mentality to have.”

3. After scoring his team-leading 10th goal of the season against the Oilers, Max Domi enters Thursday nights game riding a seven-game points streak. During that span, the 23-year-old centerman has collected five goals and 11 points. He leads the Canadiens with 22 points on the year, seven points clear of Tomas Tatar. Domi didnt take part in Wednesdays on-ice session. He was given a therapy day. Meanwhile, Andrew Shaw extended his goal-scoring streak to three straight games with a tally versus Edmonton. Shaw has four goals during that run. 

Domi on a roll: The Canadiens’ Max Domi extended his point streak to seven games when he scored against the Oilers, giving him 5-6-11 totals during that span. Domi has only been held off the scoresheet three times in 18 games this season and after Tuesday’s game ranked 10th in the NHL scoring race with 10-12-22 totals, trailing league leader Connor McDavid (10-16-26) of the Oilers by only four points. The last Canadiens player to finish a season in the top 10 in NHL scoring was Mats Naslund in 1985-86. Domi skipped practice Wednesday, taking a therapy day, but coach Claude Julien said there was no reason for concern.

4. For their part, the Flames havent played since Sunday when they wrapped up a three-game California road trip with a loss in San Jose. Sean Monahan (9g – 10a), Matthew Tkachuk (7g – 12a) and Johnny Gaudreau (6g – 13a) lead Bill Peters squad with 19 points each through 18 games. Mike Smith will get the start in goal for Calgary on Thursday night. Smith is 4-3-4 in 12 career games against the Canadiens, compiling a 2.39 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. 

Coach Claude Julien speaking with #Habs players during practice at Calgarys Saddledome #HabsIO

5. Puck drop on Thursday night is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. ET (7:00 p.m. MT). You can watch all of the action on TSN2, Sportsnet West and RDS, and listen to the game on TSN Radio 690 and 98,5 fm. Following the tilt, the Canadiens will fly to Vancouver where theyll close out their road trip with a matchup against the Canucks on Saturday night at Rogers Arena.

Shaw provides a spark:Andrew Shaw scored the other goal for the Canadiens against the Oilers, giving him four in the last three games while playing on a line with Domi and Jonathan Drouin. Shaw (4-1-5) and Drouin (1-3-4) are both on three-game point streaks. The problem on that line has been winning faceoffs. Domi went 4-8 in the faceoff circle against the Oilers (33 per cent), while Shaw went 2-10 (17 per cent). For the season, Domi has won 42.8 per cent of his faceoffs and Shaw 37.7 per cent. Ironically, Drouin has won 47.2 per cent of his faceoffs after moving from centre to wing this season.

CALGARY – Here are five things you need to know ahead of Thursday nights game against the Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Sparking the Flames: The Flames’ No. 1 line with Sean Monahan at centre between Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm has combined for 24 goals and 56 points in the first 18 games. Monahan leads the Flames in scoring with 9-10-19 totals, while Gaudreau has 6-13-19 and Lindholm 9-9-18. Matthew Tkachuk, who plays left wing on the second line with Mikael Backlund at centre and Sam Bennett on the right, has 7-12-19 totals.

Another struggling goalie: Mike Smith, the Flames’ No. 1 goalie, has been struggling this season with a 5-6-1 record, a 3.51 goals-against average and an .877 save percentage. Smith will start against the Canadiens even though backup David Rittich has been outstanding with a 5-1-0 record, a 1.91 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage.

The Flames will be hoping Montreal’s defensive woes continue as they return home from a three-game West Coast road trip pegged as -145 favourites. Calgary mustered just four total goals while dropping two of three in California, and has been streaky on home ice, surrendering four or more goals on four occasions while amassing a 4-2-1 record.

As Montreal continues through its Western Canada road swing, a bumpy start against Edmonton was a solid wakeup call for a team that has turned heads for positive reasons so far this season. The Canadiens were victim to an overwhelming third-period push from the Connor McDavid-led Edmonton Oilers, in what could be possibly the most disappointing effort of the season.

The Canadiens’ recent struggles continued in the opening date of their current three-game swing through Western Canada. Montreal was dominated in a 6-2 loss in Edmonton as a +130 underdog on Tuesday, and has now fallen to defeat in four of six contests going into Thursday night’s game at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Tonight, they move forward against the Calgary Flames, a team that has had a Jekyll and Hyde type season, and could prove to give the Canadiens either a great opportunity to rebound, or another tough test in Alberta.

Despite a solid showing through two periods, which included contributions from a red-hot Max Domi, who shows no sign of slowing down, and Andrew Shaw, who has moved up alongside Domi and Jonathan Drouin, the Habs were completely shut down in the third as the Oilers posted a three-goal period to take the game decisively.

Meanwhile, the Calgary Flames currently sit in third place in the Pacific, but as with all teams in the West this season, have been shifting up and down the standings. Carried by their first line of Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm, the Flames have managed to amass a 10-7-1 record, but have been inconsistent during the process to get here.

Lindholm in particular has fit in nicely with the Flames since arriving from Carolina, currently sitting with nine goals and nine assists, with point-per-game production so far this season.

Prized free-agent signing James Neal has been unable to gain any sort of traction with the Flames since signing in the summer, producing only four points in 18 games so far this season, and was recently benched in Calgarys last outing. In goal, Mike Smith has struggled, and is now in competition with David Rittich for the starting spot in the crease.