Eastern Conference-Leading Habs Host New York Islanders

Debby Wong – US PRESSWIRE

The Montreal Canadiens are in first place in the Eastern Conference entering Thursday’s game with the New York Islanders. The Habs have surged ahead of the pack, winning five games in a row against quality opponents and only losing twice in regulation over their last 10 games.

The Canadiens are getting production from everyone. They have six players with double-digit points and three more players at eight points through 16 games. Despite Max Pacioretty scoring his first goal of the season this month and missing a week to injury, despite PK Subban holding out for much of the first part of the season, the Habs have been dominant on both sides of the ice.

A strong defensive group in front of Carey Price has helped Price improve his play this season. Price is carrying the Habs while allowing fewer than two goals per game en route to a 9-3 record with a saves percentage of .925. His play behind what could prove to be the best defensive group in hockey has the Habs playing a balanced, stable and impressive style atop the Eastern Conference. A +11 goal differential speaks to the balance of the Canadiens.

The Habs host an Islanders team on Thursday that is much improved this season, but slumping. They’ve won just three of their last 10games and are riding a two-game losing streak. The Isles have slipped into last place in the Atlantic Division again, but with John Tavares’ top line and a streaky goaltender, they can beat anyone.

On home ice and playing some of their best hockey this season, the Canadiens cannot have a let-down game against the Isles. New York can surprise people, but feeding on one of the best home ice advantages in all of hockey, the Habs should be able to find a way to win. Behind another solid performance from Price, look for the Habs to come out on top on Thursday: Canadiens 3 – Islanders 0.

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