Even though the Montreal Canadiens have clinched a playoff berth, they have been struggling as of late and lost their last two games against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers — one team who is below them in the standings by four points and another whose chances at a playoff spot are now completely gone.
It’s been a matter of the Canadiens defense, including goaltending, that appears to be at the heart of the issue with this team. In the last two losses, Montreal has allowed a total of 12 goals, so it is more than likely that they will be looking to redeem themselves tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins. This is the third and final game in the series that Monreal will play against Pittsburgh. The Penguins have beat them in the last two matchups, so losing a third time would come as a bigger blow with the situation they are currently in now.
Since the team has been struggling along with netminder Carey Price, the Canadiens should consider starting backup, Peter Budaj, who replaced Price in both of the last two losses. Although it is more likely for them to start Price tonight, Montreal recently re-signed Budaj to a two year extension, which is a statement about the team’s confidence in his ability to be a dependable backup.
The Canadiens have six games left in the regular season, including tonight’s game against the Penguins, which will be a test to see if they can bounce back from this two-game loss or continue to be off-course to start the playoffs.