The Canadiens will face off against a Western Conference foe for the first time this season when the Arizona Coyotes visit the Bell Centre Thursday (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet 360, RDS, TSN 690 Radio). Here are five things you should know about the game:
Balance is the key: The Canadiens rank second in the NHL in terms of goals-against per game (1.33) which is to be expected after Al Montoya’s torrid start, but some fans might be surprised that the dull, boring Canadiens are tied for ninth with 3.67 goals per game. Each line has produced at least one goal and eight players have at least one goal.
Shuffling goalies: Montoya is leading the NHL with a .962 save percentage and is second to former teammate Roberto Luongo in goals-against average (1.30) but he’ll probably return to a backup role as Carey Price returns to action after missing a week with the flu.
Smith day-to-day: Arizona coach Dave Tippett says goaltender Mike Smith is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Smith had to leave Tuesday’s game in Ottawa after his leg was injured during a goalmouth scramble at 7:18 of the third period. The Coyotes were trailing 3-2 when Smith was injured and lost 7-4. Louis Domingue replaced Smith and will start against the Canadiens, while Justin Peters has been called up from Tucson on an emergency basis.
Power-play update: Statistically, there has been no improvement on the Canadiens’ power play which has gone 2-for-12 this season for a 16.7-per-cent success rate. The PP went 1-for-6 Tuesday, but it should be noted that the Canadiens had trouble getting organized because there were a number of overlapping penalties. The contest resembled a CFL game with seven penalties between 19:23 of the second period and 2:27 of the third. The Canadiens had six power plays, but only held the man advantage for 5:58. The Penguins had eight power plays and had the advantage for 8:19.
Hold that pose: The Canadiens had their season-opening team picture taken Wednesday. There were six players who were not in last year’s season-ending team picture and 15 of the players from that picture are gone.