Oct. 20, 2022: Coyotes at Canadiens — Five things you should know
Here are five things you should know about the Canadiens-Coyotes game Thursday at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM):
The matchup: The Canadiens and the Coyotes are expected to be among the teams in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes next spring, but both sides are coming off impressive wins Monday against teams that are expected to be in Stanley Cup contention. The Canadiens received a goal from Cole Caulfield with 2:20 to play and Kirby Dach scored a power-play goal in overtime as Montreal edged Pittsburgh 3-2 at the Bell Centre. The Coyotes, who have the second-lowest payroll in the NHL, upset the cap-strapped Maple Leafs 4-2 for their first win in three starts.
Allen back in goal: Jake Allen will get the start in goal after taking some time off to be with his wife, Shannon, who gave birth to the couple’s third child, a daughter, this week. He has split his first two starts, but has a sparkling .943 save percentage and a 2.03 goals-against average. The Coyotes will counter with Karel Vejmelka, a 26-year-old Czech who has the kind of numbers you want if you’re looking to finish near the bottom. He is 1-2 this season with a 4.35 GAA. Last season, his first in the NHL, he posted a 13-32-3 record with a 3.68 GAA and an .898 save percentage.
Young King Cole: If you’re keeping track, Cole Caufield has thee goals, which is two more than Auston Matthews. Caufield scored 23 goals last season, but he didn’t score his third until Feb. 12. Linemate Nick Suzuki leads the club with five points, including two goals, but the Canadiens have to get more production from the other three lines. Only three other players have scored goals and Josh Anderson came through while playing on the top line. Despite some upgrades up front, the Canadiens rank 31st in offence with 2.00 goals a game and are 29th on the power play with a 7.7-per-cent success rate.
Coyotes have the power: The Canadiens are well advised to stay out of the penalty box against the Coyotes. Arizona has scored five of its nine goals this season on the power play and ranks third in the NHL (38.5 per cent). The key player on the power play is Shayne Gostisbehere. He’s not much of a defenceman, but he does a great job of quarterbacking the power play and has a goal and three assists with the extra man, which is why he’ll be moving to a contender at the trade deadline. Nick Ritchie is the team’s leading goal-scorer, with three, all of them on the power play.