The Montreal Canadiens will not be back on their home ice until 2018 and are without their top defenseman, hardly the ideal situation to reverse their current slump. The Canadiens, who have dropped four of five following a five-game winning streak, continue a seven-game road trip against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.
Both teams are struggling to produce offense — Montreal has nine goals in its last five games while the Canucks have scored 10 times during a 1-5-0 slide. Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber was sent back to Montreal to be re-evaluated for a foot injury that caused him to miss seven games last month. Vancouver is dealing with a rash of injuries, the latest to star rookie Brock Boeser, who will sit out Tuesday after hurting his foot in Sunday’s 6-1 drubbing by Calgary. The Canadiens have won three in a row versus the Canucks, but they have lost 13 of 16 (3-11-2) against Western Conference opponents and are 1-6-1 versus the Pacific Division this season.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, RDS, TSN2 (Montreal), Sportsnet Pacific (Vancouver)
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (14-15-4): Although Weber has played in all six games this month, coach Claude Julien said the stud defenseman continued to be bothered by the injury. “It’s a long season, and it’s the type of injury that he couldn’t continue playing with,” Julien said. “We’ll manage it properly over the next couple of days and weeks.” Julien juggled his lines at Monday’s practice in an effort to jump-start the offense, reuniting captain Max Pacioretty with Jonathan Drouin and Paul Byron on the top line.
ABOUT THE CANUCKS (15-15-4): Vancouver may have dodged a serious injury when it was revealed the Boeser, who leads the team and all NHL rookies with 17 goals and 30 points, did not suffer a fracture. “It’s more of a bone bruise and more day-to-day than week-to-week for his return,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning said Monday. “It’s a relief. We can’t afford to lose a player like that.” Captain Henrik Sedin is mired in a 16-game goal-scoring drought, but he has been an assist machine with 16 over the last 14 games.
1. Canadiens G Carey Price is 8-2-2 with a 2.14 goals-against average versus Vancouver.
2. The Canucks have surrendered six power-play goals in the past six games.
3. Pacioretty has one goal in his last 15 games overall, but has scored seven times in 14 games against the Canucks.
PREDICTION: Canadiens 3, Canucks 1