PODCAST: Canadian Division Roundtable Ep. 2

Montreal looks to bounce back after 4-2 loss to Toronto Wednesday night

The Canadiens and Oilers have previously played twice this season, with Montreal winning both games. Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

With the North Division-leading Toronto Maple Leafs off for the night, the rest of the pack in Canada will battle for positioning with three games on the schedule on Thursday evening.

As of Feb. 11, seven of the top eight goal scorers in the NHL represent a Canadian franchise.

On Thursday night, the most proficient goal scorers across the country will face off against each other with crucial points on the line in the always intriguing North Division.

Listen: Canadian Division Roundtable Ep. 2

Edmonton Oilers vs. Montreal Canadiens (8:00 PM EST.)

The Oilers head into La belle province looking for their third straight road win when they take on the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.

It was the blue-line providing all the offence for Edmonton (8-7-0) on Tuesday in the nation’s capital as defensemen Darnell Nurse, Tyson Barrie, and Evan Bouchard all got on the scoresheet in a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators.

Montreal (8-3-2) is playing host for the second time in as many nights, following a 4-2 defeat to the division-leading Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday evening.

After starting the season undefeated in regulation through seven games, the Canadiens are now 3-3-0 in their last six and trail the Maple Leafs by five points.

Given the backup goalie’s success so far and the congested nature of the schedule, the Habs are expected to turn to Jake Allen in this one. Allen, 4-1-0 with a 1.81 GAA and .940 SV%, has turned heads in his first season with the Canadiens and will look to continue his stellar play between the pipes in his sixth start of the season.

Edmonton’s two-headed monster in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl has dominated the early part of the campaign to the tune of 27 points and 25 points, respectively. 

Their win in Ottawa on Tuesday was the first for the Oilers since November of 2017 where neither McDavid or Draisaitl recorded a point. If their hopes of making the playoffs are genuine, they’ll need that secondary scoring to become an aid rather than an anomaly down the stretch.

Montreal has gotten the better of Edmonton on both occasions so far this year, topping the Oilers 5-1 back on Jan. 16, before once again winning on the road two nights later by a 3-1 scoreline.

Despite fears over the games postponement looming as Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi was added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, the contest is scheduled to proceed with puck drop pushed back an hour.

While it remains early days in the North Division playoff race, both sides will surely be hoping for two points at the Bell Centre on Thursday evening, assuming this one goes ahead. 

Winnipeg Jets vs. Ottawa Senators (8:00 PM EST.)

The Winnipeg Jets (7-4-1) get set to host the first of two games versus the Ottawa Senators (2-11-1).

Ottawa will be looking for revenge as Winnipeg swept a three-game series by a combined score of 14-7 when the teams last met in mid-January.

The Jets are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night, and are currently fourth in the Canadian Division standings – third in points percentage.

Tuesday night was marked by a two-goal performance from sharpshooter Nikolaj Ehlers. He has eight goals and six assists through 12 games – on pace for a career year. Centre and assistant-captain Mark Scheifele leads the team with 15 points and will look to continue his four-game point streak.

Captain Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor have struggled as of late. In Winnipeg’s last seven games, Wheeler has four points and a minus-nine rating, while Connor has three points and a minus-eight rating. Luckily for them, the Senators are last in the NHL with 4.14 goals-against per game and hold a minus-27 goal differential. It’s a perfect time to re-find their offensive groove.

As you may have guessed, the Senators sit comfortably at the bottom of the division. After snapping a nine-game losing streak last week versus Montreal, Ottawa wasted no time starting a new one, with three straight losses since that victory. 

The most recent loss came despite outshooting the Edmonton Oilers 42-22 on Tuesday night. The difference with this losing streak, is the Senators have been contending in those games. If backup goaltender Marcus Hogberg had played better on Tuesday, the result may have been different.

Starting goalie Matt Murray has returned to his Stanley Cup champion form after looking like a shell of himself earlier in the season. Of his last 113 shots faced, he’s allowed only six goals.

Senators rookie sensation Tim Stützle broke out with four points last week – watch for his speed, shot, and offensive creativity.

Murray is expected to get the start between the pipes for Ottawa. He’ll battle Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck who should man the crease for Winnipeg tonight.

Calgary Flames vs. Vancouver Canucks (10:00 PM EST.)

After the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Ottawa Senators three consecutive times from Jan. 25-Jan. 28, it seemed as though the team had officially returned to its proficient play that was seen throughout the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Since then, the team has lost five out of its last six games. 

On Thursday night, the Canucks (6-10-0) will look to break their five-game losing streak when they host the Calgary Flames. 

The Flames (6-5-1) currently sit in fifth place in the North Division, winning their last two affairs, good enough for 13 points in 12 games played. Forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm are both playing at a point-per-game pace. 

Vancouver’s recent trip to Eastern Canada will be a stretch the team hopes can be quickly forgotten. Two losses to the Montreal Canadiens, followed by three disappointing performances in Toronto, has put the Canucks in a vulnerable spot in the division — second to last place, only ahead of the Senators, while having the most games played. 

Calgary has won two games in a row, and will look to defeat its foes from British Columbia for the third time this season on Thursday. 

Vancouver and Calgary previously played each other on Jan. 16 and Jan. 18, with the Flames getting the better of the Canucks in both tilts, outscoring their opponents 8-2 in the two games combined.

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Posted: Feb 11 2021 6:55 pm
Filed under: Hockey Sports