The Montreal Canadiens sit second in the Eastern conference with a record of 35-15-3, they have the second best winning %, behind only Nashville, and you can look at Carey Price as the main reason they are so high in the standings.
Price is having a spectacular season, and right now he should be a candidate for both league MVP and the Vezina trophy.
Price is first in the NHL in SV%, .933 and GAA at 2.00. He has played the 6th most minutes of any goaltender and he has faced the 5th most shots. It is when you dig deeper into the numbers that you realize just how fantastic Price has been this season, and how important he is to the success of the Habs.
Currently, Montreal is the only team in a playoff spot that allows 30 shots against/game, but they have the best 5×5 Sv% at .936. Price’s ES sv% is .941.
Meanwhile, Edmonton has the worst 5×5 sv% at .901, but their goalies are facing almost the exact amount of 5×5 shots per game as the Canadiens. Price has faced an average of 23.4 ES shots/game, while Edmonton goalies face 23.7/game.
Another stat that illustrates Price’s importance to the Habs is their overall possession numbers. They sit 21st in Corsi For% at 49.4, while Edmonton is 22nd at 49.0%, however the Canadiens sit first in PDO (Sh% + Sv%) at 101.9, while Edmonton is last at 97.1.
Montreal’s shooters are scoring at an 8.33sh% pace, 8th in NHL, which helps, but when you look at their overall team numbers, much of their success points to Price.
OILERS DOMINATE PRICE
In one of the strange oddities in sports, the Oilers have dominated Price throughout his NHL career. In seven career starts he is 1-5-1 with an .857sv% and a 3.71 GAA. The Oilers have scored 26 goals on only 182 shots against Price.
That might be the reason Dustin Tokarski is getting the start tonight for the Habs. I doubt head coach Michel Therrien is worried about Price’s past struggles vs. the Oilers, and likely is playing his backup because the 29th place team is in town, but it is odd how much success the Oilers have had against Price.
The only lineup change might be Fraser for Gazdic, but I think we will see the same lineup from two nights ago. Benoit Pouliot skated again and said he feels better, but he will watch from the pressbox again.
Viktor Fasth starts with Ben Scrivens still out with a groin injury.
You can see the Habs lineup via Dailyfaceoff.com.
- In Tokarski’s ten starts the Canadiens have allowed 30.3 shots/game. In Price’s 43 starts they have allowed 30.3 shots/game. Tokarski has a .916sv%, while Price has a .933%. The Habs are 5-4-1 when Tokarski starts and 30-11-2 with Price between the pipes. The Canadiens are significantly better with Price. He is clearly their MVP and should be in the running for both the Vezina and Hart Trophy this year.
- Now let’s look at the Oilers goalies. In Scrivens’ 34 starts, the Oilers are 10-17-7 and he has a .892sv% and faces an average of 28.9 shots/game. Fasth has started 21 games and the Oilers are 5-14-2, while Fasth has a .890sv% and faces 29.4 shots/game. The Oilers win 29% of the games Scrivens starts and 24% with Fasth. They give up essentially the same amount of shots and the goalies SV% are very close.
- The Oilers defeated Tokarski and the Habs 3-0 on October 27th at Rexall
Place, despite being outshot 29-19 and out Corsi’d 61-43. The Oilers
rolled four lines and three D pairs all game. Jeff Petry played the most
(20:04), while Jesse Joensuu played the fewest minutes (12:02).
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
From Ian Murray at Habs Eyes on the Prize:
Lucky as they may be to have the historic tanking of the Buffalo Sabres overshadowing their futility, the Edmonton Oilers remain one of the NHL’s poorest clubs this season.
Their score-adjusted unblocked shot attempts are fourth-to-worst in the Western Conference, better than only the Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, and Arizona Coyotes. Their goal differential is similarly putrid, as the near-league-worst Oilers are giving more than a full goal per game compared to the Canadiens. To compound their problems, they’ll without perhaps their most effective player this evening.
This will be the second game in a row that an injury will keep an opponent’s star player from facing-off against the Habs. While Ray Emery did an admirable job of filling Steve Mason’s skates, it is far less likely that the Oilers will find a Taylor Hall replacement lingering in the corridors of Rexall Place. The former first overall pick has a lower-body injury, depriving a talent-poor Edmonton team of their best scorer and best possession winger.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Habs are essentially a .500 team when Price doesn’t play. The Oilers played well in New Jersey and Long Island, and they continue that with a solid effort in Montreal, but lose a close game 3-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Habs score first. The Oilers have allowed the first goal a league-most 34 times. (Tied with Arizona).
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: In the 19 games Todd Nelson has coached the goal scorers have been: Eberle (9), Pouliot (8), Hendricks and Roy (4), Fraser (3), Klefbom, Yakupov, Lander and RNH (2), while Hamilton, Gazdic, Purcell, Gordon, Hall, Schultz, Nikitin, Petry and Ference have one.
Rob Klinkhammer, Iiro Pakarinen and Martin Marincin are the only ones in the lineup tonight who haven’t tallied with Nelson behind the bench. Pakarinen scores tonight leaving Klinkhammer and Marincin to battle it out.
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