clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Nashville Predators @ Montreal Canadiens: Subban Night

The Nashville Predators and P.K Subban travel to Montreal to take on the Canadiens.

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Nashville Predators Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

The red-hot Predators roll into Montreal tonight to take on the Canadiens. Riding a four game win streak and a six game point streak, the Preds are one of the hottest teams in the league. Most of that is because of Filip Forsberg, who was recently named NHL’s Second Star of the Month for February.

But tonight’s game is more likely to be all about P.K. Subban, who makes his return to Montreal to play his former team. Subban was out with an injury back on January 3rd, when Shea Weber scored in a 2-1 OT win for the Habs. So this will be his last chance this regular season to face the team that traded him to Nashville.

There’s a solid feature on the Predators website by Thomas Willis about Subban’s return to Montreal. In addition to talking about returning to the children’s hospital he helped fund, he talks about what it will be like to face his former team:

"The feelings going back, [I'm] excited, we're a solid hockey team right now," Subban said. "We're in a position where we want to get the ball rolling. We've already started that, it's going to be a big game. It will be an emotional one and people are going to talk about the trade, but those two points, those are going to be two very, very important points for both teams. I think that will add to the game as well and making it fun to watch, but for me personally, I'm just going to go into it with an open mind and take everything in stride, but enjoy it.

"I gave everything that I had for those six years when I played [in Montreal]. From being drafted in 2007 and doing everything that I could to make the team, wearing the jersey with pride, respecting the fans and the legacy of the Montreal Canadiens and the history. The relationships with Jean Beliveau and his beautiful wife, Madame Beliveau, and to have those things, you really have to cherish those friendships for a lifetime."

Class, people.

The Montreal Canadiens

The Canadiens aren’t playing as well as the Preds right now, going 5-5 in their last 10 games, but they are still sitting comfortably atop the Atlantic Division with 78 points.

The Habs made some interesting deadline day moves, acquiring a noticeable amount of grit. They acquired Steve Ott from the Red Wings and Dwight King from the Kings. They also nabbed a few defensemen, Jordie Benn from the Stars and Brandon Davidson from the Oilers.

Yep, this Canadiens team now has Steve Ott and Andrew Shaw.

These moves aren’t likely to help improve their offense, which sits at 17th in the league, scoring 2.73 goals per game. Not an impressive number when you consider Max Pacioretty has 31 goals on the season, which is tied for 2nd in the league. They just don’t get a lot of scoring elsewhere on the team. Wingers Alex Radulov and Alex Galchenyuk each have 15 goals, as does Shea Weber. But other than a few surprises like Paul Byron, there’s not much offensive power on this team.

The Habs make up for this lack of offense with a top 10 defense, mostly due to Carey Price. The Canadiens are 6th in the league in goals allowed per game at 2.52 and Price is the main reason. Among regular starters, Price is 9th in the league in save percentage at 92.0%. He isn’t having a Vezina Trophy caliber season, but he has still been solid.

It will be interesting to see how these deadline moves affect the Canadiens for the stretch run. They are sort of a team in transition right now. A new coach with a different mindset and some new players to move around. With 18 games to go in the regular season, is it too late to turn this team into something different? Something that’s more ready to compete in the postseason? We’ll see.

The Nashville Predators

The Preds made a move yesterday, which I went into earlier today. While everyone was waiting to see if David Poile would sell the farm for one of the big names out there, he instead made a very reasonable move to get some scoring depth.

This relatively minor move, but it’s not surprising because of the recent success of the team. Over the last eight games, the Preds have put up 34 goals and beaten some quality teams like the Capitals, the Blue Jackets, and the Oilers. However, they’ve also allowed 29 goals in that eight game span and blown a few leads here and there.

Regardless of their most recent success, the Preds continue to be a very inconsistent team. They are riding a hot streak at the moment, but this has happened before. Remember back in November, when it seemed like the Preds couldn’t lose? Then December came and they did lose... a lot.

The Preds are a very top-heavy goal scoring team at the moment. The top line has been on fire recently, but where’s the rest of the scoring? Craig Smith is the main goat, but what about Colin Wilson? James Neal? Or how about some more scoring from the blueline? There’s a lot of blame to go around.

There’s also been issues with goaltending. Over his last seven games, Pekka Rinne has an 85.1 save percentage. The defense isn’t helping him out much, but you’ve certainly got to get more out of your goaltender than that. And Juuse Saros hasn’t been much better: he’s got an 89.7 save percentage over his last seven games. Do the math and that’s a combined 87.6 save percentage from Preds goaltenders over the last 13 games (one of those was a combined game where Saros replaced Rinne in net).

No one wants to complain about underlying problems when the team is winning, but it’s foolish to think this team has figured everything out. The Preds are a long way from being a legitimate Cup contender with the way the pieces they have are performing.

Reasons To Watch

  • It should be fascinating to watch P.K Subban’s return to his former home. I imagine the Montreal faithful will give him a warm welcome.
  • Filip Forsberg is a hockey god.
  • The way the game ended on Tuesday night, how could you not watch?

The Important Details

6:30 PM puck drop tonight. Be ready to watch early! TV: FS-TN, Radio: 102.5 The Game