It has been a tale of two seasons for these franchises so far in 2018. Montreal, disappointing for large parts of last season, have been solid in recent months whilst Vegas, Stanley Cup runners up in their augural campaign as an organisation, are struggling to keep pace in the Pacific Division.
The Canadiens will head into this encounter off the back of a two-game losing run. Montreal will have been encouraged by their efforts in that overtime defeat to the Buffalo Sabres and fans will be quietly confident of turning things around here. The home supporters will have this one jotted down as a win on their predictions…
On the other hand, Vegas are struggling to cope with the added weight of expectation after their exploits last year. The Golden Knights have won five of their last six games, including a 5-3 triumph over the Ottawa Senators in their most recent clash. This may be a stretch too far for the visitors though; Montreal are hard to beat on home ice.
Vegas Struggling In Front Of Goal In 2018/19
One of Vegas’ biggest strengths last year was their prowess in front of goal. This year, the Golden Knights have come crashing back down to earth though – notching just 39 goals in 16 NHL outings. Only the Los Angeles Kings (33) and Florida Panthers (38) have scored fewer goals but both have games in hand on the Golden Knights.
Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson are the only Vegas players to top the 10-point mark on the year; an astonishingly poor record considering their success in 2017/18. The Golden Knights will be looking to improve ahead of the busy festive period; December form will be key to their chances of snatching a postseason berth.
The Golden Knights have topped three goals in a single game just twice this year. To put that into perspective, their opponents Montreal have scored four or more goals in six of their regular season games in 2018/19.
Canadiens Dreaming Of Stanley Cup Glory
The key word here is ‘dreaming’. At this moment in time, finishing in the playoff spots will be Montreal’s top priority. Looking too far into the future would be foolish right now, we’re only six weeks into the new season. However, you can never stop fans from hoping and the city of Montreal will be quietly confident of a solid push on current form.
Just six points behind early pace setters Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division, the Canadiens are right in the mix and plenty of punters will be backing Montreal to go on and challenge for the Stanley Cup this year. Their back-to-back defeats earlier this week say otherwise but most teams have some sort of blip – write Montreal off at your peril.
Maxi Domi has been sensational in recent weeks, notching 19 points in his 16 appearances so far this season. With nine goals and 10 assists, he has been central to Montreal’s early season success and he could be the difference for the Canadiens this week and in the more general context of the 2018/19 campaign.
Vegas’ woes in front of goal have been well documented and the Golden Knights may find it difficult again this weekend. Montreal are heading in the right direction and the Canadiens will be looking to bounce back after those two defeats. A comfortable win for the hosts looks likely here – Montreal will want to send out a statement of intent.
TIP: Montreal Canadiens to win (in 60 minutes)
CORRECT SCORE: Montreal Canadiens 4-1 Vegas Golden Knights