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Pregame: Canadiens vs Panthers

February 29, 2024, 2:14 PM ET [290 Comments]
Karine Hains
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After finally putting an end to their losing streak against the Coyotes, the Canadiens will be back in action tonight in Florida. Needless to say, the Panthers are a much better team than the Coyotes as they are the top team in the Atlantic division with 82 points just like the Bruins, but the Panthers have got a game in hand.

With less than 10 days to go before the trade deadline, it seems like the Habs have finally concluded that there’s no point in showcasing Jake Allen anymore as Samuel Montembeault will be starting a second game in a row. The netminder was the sole reason why the Canadiens beat the Panthers on Tuesday night and he’s making a statement this season; no matter how many goaltenders are on the roster, he’s the number one. Of course, some won’t like that he’s stealing games, but you can’t expect a goaltender not to try just to get better odds at the draft.
The Panthers are particularly stingy having not given more than two goals per game to the opponent in 14 games. They also have a power play with a 26% success rate, which could spell trouble for the Canadiens who have been undisciplined of late. Martin St-Louis even made Juraj Slafkovsky skip a turn on Tuesday after he had taken two high-sticking penalties. Florida’s penalty kill is sixth in the league, so making the most of any power play won’t be an easy task, but it will be a good test for the Canadiens’ first unit which has shown a lot of promise lately.
Tonight’s game will be the third of four meetings between the two sides this season. Florida has won the first two games by scores of 5-1 on November 20th and 4-1 on December 30th.

There’s no word yet on who will be in the net for the Cats, but Bobrovsky won the November tilt while Stolarz signed the win in December. The latter is going through a hot streak lately he’s got a 4-1-0 record since January 22nd and posting great numbers including a .951 save percentage and a 1.39 goals-against average. Should Stolarz get the net, it will be the 100th game of his career.

The Panthers have won the last six games against the Canadiens, and you’ve got to go back to Aprill 22nd, 2022 to find Montreal’s last win. Although that was the last game of the season, and the Panthers were icing their B or even C team. This is the only game Montreal has won in the last 10 matches with Florida.

The puck drop is set for 7:00 PM and after tonight, another big challenge awaits the Canadiens as they’ll have to take on Tampa on Saturday night.
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