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Pregame Canadiens vs Capitals

February 6, 2024, 4:31 PM ET [205 Comments]
Karine Hains
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The Habs will finally be back in action tonight after a lengthy break when they face the Washington Capitals. This will be Montreal’s first game without Sean Monahan, a veteran who might not have played a lot of games with the Canadiens in the last two seasons but has had a huge impact on many of the young players according to Cole Caufield and Juraj Slafkovsky. The Capitals will also be without an important player, he wasn’t traded but the team announced Evgeny Kuznetsov had entered the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program. As always when this is the case, no further information was provided.

In 43 games this season, Kuznetsov hasn’t even looked like a shadow of his former self, only putting up six goals and 11 assists for 17 points. He hasn’t been the only one struggling though, even the Great Eight Alexander Ovechkin is struggling, he still leads the teams in points with 31 tied with Dylan Strome, but this is far from his usual performance. The multi time winner of the Maurice Richard trophy has best goal scorer has only managed to find the back of the net nine times. In other words, there are three Habs who would lead Washington in scoring if they played for the Capitals. Suzuki (42 points), Caufield (39 points) and Matheson (34 points). I’m not entirely sure when was the last time something like that happened. As crazy as it sounds, the Capitals are the only team in the Eastern Conference to have scored less goals than the Canadiens.

Ovechkin is still chasing Wayne Gretzky’s record of 894 goals meaning that he’s missing 63 goals. Prior to this season it seemed like he would only need a couple of years to tie up the Great One, but with his current scoring rhythm, it would take a lot longer. He’s on pace for just 16 goals this season which would bring him to 56 goals of Gretzky’s record. At that rate, it would take him three and a half seasons to catch up to him. It’s looking increasingly doubtful that he’ll catch up, unless of course he finds his game again and resumes scoring like a machine.

This will be the second of three meetings between the two sides this season, Montreal won the first confrontation back in October by a score of 3-2. Jake Allen was in net then and Cole Caufield got the game winning goal. Tonight, Samuel Montembeault will be in the crease. The Quebecer has got a 1-2-0 record against the Capitals with a .875 SP and a 3.72 GAA. The Capitals are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games against the Canadiens and Washington has won its last three games at home. Cole Caufield has got a 9-game point streak during which he picked up 12 points.

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