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Canadiens Look To Bounce Back Against Reeling Predators

February 14, 2019, 12:22 PM ET [37 Comments]
Brandon Smillie
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT

The Montreal Canadiens lost a tough game in OT in their last outing against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The game was pretty good all around but I felt Montreal deserved a better fate and I definitely won't be paying any kudos to a team that tanked out and made the easiest signing in the history of NHL free agency in Tavares.

The TO media was not shy about how they viewed the Canadiens heading into the season with some even going so far as to suggest the Habs would score 5 goals all year after dealing Pacioretty and Galchenyuk. Of note, Tatar and Domi are outproducing the traded players 89 pts to 60 so clearly there are many in the TO media who's questions during hiring were of the "Do you like the Maple Leafs?" and the answer of "OMG yes, yes, a thousand times yes! They are winning multiple Cups in a row!" meant you got a job with a major sports network.

We all knew how clueless the TO media pump machine was anyways long before this but the Matthews and Tavares additions have made watching sports channels outside of actual games insufferable. That's why losing to an OT goal by Pajama Man himself was a bitter pill to swallow that night, especially because Montreal outplayed them... Good thing is that in the playoffs there is no 3 on 3 to decide a game and the longer that game went the more likely the Habs were winning it. Hopefully we get them next time.

That leads us all from one emotion filled game night as fans to another tonight after a 4 day layoff. A game in Nashville against some "Habs" fans favorite player, and Nashville's 4th most used D man, PK Subban. I will say its PK Subban's team because I never hear about anyone else from media types.

I know from following the game that Forsberg has come back from injury and played his usual, awesome self and that Josi and Ekholm make up probably the best 1-2 D punch in the NHL, but somehow Subban is all the media cares about. So much so they nominate him for awards over Josi who is clearly their best D and one of the leagues absolute Elite. But there's a narrative to uphold and double down on sometimes until backing it just makes no sense at all.... Like this year. We are finally seeing hockey types recognize what we already knew about Subban. He's fantastic for the PP and has confidence to rush the puck, but he isn't the fastest, he is off his skates too often, and he is a defensive liability. Just took a little for some media types man crush (or Habs hate) to wear off a bit and we can start seeing things objectively again.

The goal for the Canadiens tonight won't be to make this all about PK Subban though (but I bet Subban tries to assert his dominance tonight in his home rink) it will be about putting as much pressure on Rinne and the Preds as possible. They have lost 3 straight and and 4 of their last 6 heading into tonights game so tensions could be high.

Rinne has had a bipolar season so far and right now he is struggling. The Pekka is 2-5-1 over his last 8 games and isn't instilling confidence in Nashville, who finds itself turning to break out young star in the making Juuse Saros. The goaltender who's 100+ days away from being 37 years old also just nabbed himself his retirement pension contract for 2 more seasons after this one at $5 million per, so maybe he's taken pressure off himself as the end of his NHL career is in sight. Rinne has always been an off and on Goalie for most of his career where a solid season was usually followed up by a far less solid one and/or injuries. I'm surprised the Preds committed so much to the elder goalie but perhaps they wanted to have him under contract so they could at least trade him as an asset rather than let him walk in the offseason... Either way, Poile looks like he likes to gamble with his contracts and this is a bit of another one unless the feel Rinne's tutelage over Saros is worth $10 million, and maybe it is.

But tonight, if the reigning Vezina winner is starting then the Habs must shake his confidence early and silence that non stop chanting crowd. For comparison, Rinne is rocking a 19-15-3 record with a 2.50 GAA and .914 SP% (after a scorching hot start to the season) and Carey Price has put up a 23-13-5 record with a 2.55 GAA and .915 SP% (after a really weak start). I would love to see the Habs game mirrors the trajectory of their starting goaltenders with the Habs continuing their climb up the standings and Nashville starting to show some big cracks in the foundation.

Now, today is Valentine's Day and many of us may be busy with spouses, dates, and hunting for mates. Some of us may not be able to tune into tonights battle in Nashville, including me. But, I'll be recording this game tonight and hope you can as well. If not I would recommend getting on Twitter for all you up to the second updates. Send any extra love the Habs way tonight for a big 2 points! A regulation win tonight ties us with our opponents tonight at 71 points... Who would have thought the Habs everyone thought was in Jack Hughes territory is on the same level as the greatest GM in the NHL who's never won anything important in his almost 5 DECADES in NHL management, but here we are!

Don't forget Montreal's newest Valentine Dale Weise is likely drawing in tonight against his best buddy in Nashville! I hope they fight just to see the reactions! It's also Shea Weber's 900th game and it comes against his former team, couldn't script that much better! Hope Weber scores a Gordie Howe Hat Trick.

Enjoy the game and the night folks!

Go Habs Go!
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