Carey Price is in for a stern test tonight as the Montreal Canadiens take on the San Jose Sharks. Price will be in net for the Habs, and few goalies have been allowed to see more rubber in this young season. He’s currently third in shots-against in the league, having faced 296 total.
On average, Montreal is giving up the eighth-most shots per game with more than 32 pucks getting to the goalie every night. That trend will need to change in a hurry if Montreal wants to contend with the deep and quick Sharks tonight.
San Jose has the most potent offense in the NHL through the first few weeks of play, and is still averaging four goals a game. And that’s after putting up only one marker in regulation over the last two contests. Standing between the Sharks and another three or four goal outburst will be Price.
Carey Price vs Sharks
— Marc Antoine Godin (@MAGodin) October 25, 2013
Without defensemen Alexei Emelin and Douglas Murray in the lineup to take over some of the defensive duties, Montreal’s blue line is still designed to move the puck up ice, not prevent goals. Stopping the Sharks will require a team effort via shot blocking and tenacity. The Boston Bruins followed that plan closely on Thursday, and were able to stop San Jose for the first time in regulation.
While playing sound defense is a must, Montreal will also need outstanding goaltending from Price. It’s likely that he’ll be going head up with Antti Niemi, who is once again among the NHL’s best in the early going.
All told, this will be a tough test for a Canadiens team that is coming off of a 4-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks have a vaunted offense as well, so if Montreal can play the same kind of game against San Jose, they may be able to surprise the offensive juggernaut.