Canadiens vs. Panthers: Start time, tape tale and how to watch
Montreal Canadiens vs Florida Panthers
How to watch
Start time: 7:00 p.m. EDT / 4:00 p.m. PDT
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English) RDS (French)
In the Panthers region: Bally Sports Florida
Diffusion: ESPN+, NHL live, Direct RDS, TSN Direct
The fate of the Montreal Canadiens is now assured, thanks to an overtime victory by the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night. These two points prevented the Habs from catching up with the Coyotes, locking them up in 32nd place.
It was a result Montreal could have cemented themselves with a loss earlier in the evening, and it created an eerie feeling watching them play their game. Every goal Montreal scored reduced its chances of getting the necessary loss, especially against a New York Rangers team that decided to retain its best players.
We can now look back in hindsight and appreciate some of Montreal’s plays, including another good night for Samuel Montembeault, two goals from Jeff Petry who looks more consistently like a top-notch defender in the latter part of the season, and a 60th point of the campaign for Nick Suzuki as he set up a Mike Hoffman one-timer.
Luckily, the result is moot for the final game of the season tonight, and everyone can just applaud any good play the Habs have against the Florida Panthers in the final game of a very tough season.
Tale of the Band
|45.1% (29th)||Score chance for %||56.8% (1st)|
|2.57 (31st)||Goals per game||4.14 (1st)|
|3.89 (32nd)||Goals conceded per game||2.86 (11th)|
|13.4% (31st)||PP %||24.1% (7th)|
|75.8% (25th)||PACK%||79.8% (15th)|
The question will be how the Panthers approach the game. Last night they rested Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Claude Giroux, MacKenzie Weegar, Gustav Forsling and Sergei Bobrovsky – and still got a 4-0 shutout, winning the Presidents’ Trophy when the Colorado Avalanche failed. couldn’t keep up. Are they taking this opportunity to rest these players for a second night in a row to give them a long rest for the playoffs, or are they making sure their stars enter the post-season in good shape by playing the final contest ?
Regardless of who plays for the visiting team, the Habs have played well against Florida this year, especially since the two teams finish the season at opposite ends of the standings. After a 5-2 loss on New Year’s Day as they faced a COVID outbreak, the Canadiens fell by a score of 4-3 on March 24, then battled to a 4-1 deficit to tie the game five days later before the Panthers took control in third.
Huberdeau had an incredible year in Florida. In a season with 35 players who have dressed for at least 70 games currently at a points-per-game rate or above, he is the only one to average more than one assist per game (Connor McDavid and Artemiy Panarin are close), and he added 30 goals to start tied for 44th in that category alone. He’s been knocked off the scoresheet just 13 times in 80 games, with at least two points in each of three games against Montreal this year.
Florida’s regular season numbers are remarkable, but the players are seeing all of their numbers reset after tonight’s action. The Panthers were also a very good team last year, but they didn’t make it past the first round as goaltenders let them down to eventual champion Tampa Bay Lightning. They haven’t made the playoffs multiple times since making the Stanley Cup final in 1996 and haven’t made it past the first round on all six occasions they have.
The team has committed a lot of resources to its run this year, with former Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot joining Giroux as part of its acquisitions. Given how desperate they are to turn things around, you can probably expect them to be eager to win to send them into the playoffs, even in that first game against the worst.