Few games are more important to fans of the Nashville Predators and Montreal Canadiens than these matchups. The first of the 2017-18 season is slated for Wednesday, Nov. 22 when the Preds host the Habs at Bridgestone Arena at 7 pm.
It’s been two seasons since the trade that shook the hockey world, when Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin sent the team’s top personality and defenseman to Nashville in exchange for the Predators’ captain and one of the best dmen in the game, Shea Weber.
It’s safe to say that as of today, the Preds are pretty happy with the deal after reaching the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 2017. The Habs on the other hand…they don’t look so good.
Here’s everything you need to know about the first of two matchups between these teams this season:
What is there to say about the Canadiens other than they’re terrible. After a disappointing first-round playoff exit, especially since they spent the majority of the season at the top of the Atlantic Division, Bergevin was confident this season would be better. Others were not so sure.
It looks like letting Alexander Radulov and Andrei Markov walk during free agency was a huge mistake. Even with the addition of star winger Jonathan Drouin, the Habs are ranked 14th in the Eastern Conference in goals for with 51 (ahead of only the Buffalo Sabres, 46) and 29th in the league in goal differential with -23 (ahead of the Sabres, -25 and Arizona Coyotes, -31). They are well out of a playoff spot at 14th in the conference standings.
Granted, the team has been missing their star goaltender Carey Price since November 2nd, but with a 3.77 goals-against average and .877 save percentage, Price has struggled as much as the team before he was injured.
The Canadiens have a 5-4-1 record in their last ten games which seems generous after giving up the lead on three different occasions against the Coyotes on Nov. 16, handing the ‘Yotes their first regulation win of the season at the Bell Centre, and a brutal 6-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night, also at home.
With two games on the road this week, against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday and Preds on Wednesday, the Habs could use a few days away from Montreal. They return to face the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, Nov. 25th.
While the Predators may not be taking the league by storm, they’re faring considerably better than the hapless Habs. Led by Filip Forsberg and Subban, the Preds are third in the Central Division with 24 points. They are a mediocre .500 on the road this season but are tearing it up at Bridgestone Arena with a 6-1-1 record heading into Monday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets.
That record has been boosted by a nice stretch of games at home this month, with seven of ten games since Nov 11 played in front of their tireless fans and two more to begin the month of December. The Predators’ next road trip will be from Dec 13 to 16 when they hit western Canada with games against the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames.
This game needs no hype. It’s all about pride and payback: Subban vs. Weber, Habs vs. Predators, Poile vs. Bergevin. Montreal fans will be watching through their fingers assuming they’re not cheering for the Predators.