Oct. 25, 2022: Wild at Canadiens — Five things you should know
The Habs have scored only one power-play goal in 18 opportunities this season for a 5.6 per cent “success” rate.
Here are five things you should know about Tuesday’s game between the Canadiens (3-3-0) and Minnesota Wild (1-3-1) at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).
The power-less play: The Canadiens have scored only one power-play goal in 18 opportunities this season for a 5.6 per cent “success” rate. The Columbus Blue Jackets are the only team in the NHL with a worse power play, going 0-for-15. Kirby Dach has the only power-play goal for the Canadiens, scoring with the man advantage in overtime for a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins last Monday at the Bell Centre. The Canadiens went 0-for-4 on the power play in Saturday night’s 5-2 loss to Dallas, while the Stars went 2-for-3 with the man advantage. Despite giving up two power-play goals to the Stars, the Canadiens still ranked 11th in the NHL in penalty-killing through Sunday’s games, allowing only three goals on 18 opportunities for an 83.3 per cent success rate.
The new captain: Nick Suzuki is off to a great start in his first season as captain of the Canadiens, leading the team in scoring with 3-4-7 totals through the first six games. Suzuki is tied for the team lead in plus/minus differential with defenceman Jordan Harris at plus-4 and he has also won 51.5 per cent of his faceoffs. Suzuki is in the first season of his eight-year, US$63-million contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $7.875 million. The 23-year-old captain will earn $10 million this season, including a signing bonus of $4,000,014 with the last two dollar figures matching his jersey number.
The Sheriff: Arber Xhekaj, who earned the nickname “The Sheriff” while playing junior with the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers and Hamilton Bulldogs, scored his first NHL goal in the Canadiens’ loss to the Stars, added an assist, was plus-1 and had a team-leading seven hits while logging 16:12 of ice time. He was a fight away from a Gordie Howe hat-trick (a goal, an assist and a fight). Through his first six NHL games, the 6-foot-4, 238-pound defenceman has 1-2-3 totals and is plus-2 with 13 penalty minutes (including five following a decisive victory in a fight with the Coyotes’ Zack Kassian) while averaging 15:18 of ice time with a team-leading 26 hits, 12 more than any other player on the team.
The goalies: The Canadiens’ Jake Allen is coming off his worst game of the season, allowing five goals on 30 shots in the loss to the Stars. But Allen’s early season numbers are still good with a 2-2 record, a 2.77 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage. The Wild’s Marc-André Fleury is off to a rough start with a 1-1-1 record, a 5.25 GAA and a .847 save percentage. The Wild acquired the 37-year-old Fleury from the Chicago Blackhawks before last season’s NHL trade deadline in exchange for a conditional second-round pick at this year’s draft (centre Ryan Green, now playing at Boston University).
The Z-man: Mats Zuccarello is off to a great start with the Wild with 4-6-10 totals, including three power-play goals, which had him tied for fourth in NHL scoring through Sunday’s games, two points behind the New York Rangers’ Artemi Panarin (4-8-12). Zuccarello also had the second-worst plus/minus in the NHL at minus-7, trailing only Arizona Coyotes defenceman Barrett Hayton, who was minus-8.
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