Retooled Canadiens, weary Predators face off in Nashville
The Montreal Canadiens hope some new faces can help keep their playoff push going through a tough stretch of the schedule, beginning with a visit to the Nashville Predators on Thursday.
The Canadiens acquired forward Dale Weise and defenseman Christian Folin in a four-player trade with the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, while forward Nate Thompson was added in a separate deal with the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.
Folin may not immediately crack Montreal's defensive pairings, though Weise and Thompson practiced together on Tuesday and are expected to join Nicolas Deslauriers in a newly-configured fourth line.
"It's going to take a little while to get our chemistry going, but we're hard-nosed guys," said Weise, who previously played for the Canadiens from 2014-16. "We play along the walls, we're going to get to the net, be physical and be reliable. I think that's all you can ask from your fourth line."
Montreal (31-18-7, 69 points) has just one regulation loss in its last 11 games (8-1-2), and the extra forward depth should help bolster the team during a very busy remainder of February. Thursday's date in Nashville is the first of eight games for the Canadiens over the span of 13 days.
The Predators (33-21-5, 71 points) are no strangers to frequent action, as they are halfway through a stretch of 14 games in 26 days. The schedule congestion could be a reason why the club has only a 6-6-2 record over its last 14 games, including a current three-game winless (0-2-1) streak.
The most recent loss came on Tuesday, when the Predators dropped a 3-2 result at home to the Detroit Red Wings.
Nashville has only a 2-4-1 record in its last seven home games, as well as just three goals from its last 48 power-play opportunities. But defenseman P.K. Subban thinks these recent issues can be corrected given the overall quality of Nashville's roster.
"We know we're capable of what we're capable of. ... For us, we just have to focus on what we can do in this locker room, and we have all the right guys and all the right potential to get things done," Subban said. "We've just got to find a way to do it."
The Predators have won their last three games against the Canadiens, including a 4-1 win on Jan. 5 in Montreal that Subban described as "our best game of the season, probably."
Viktor Arvidsson has 17 goals over his last 20 games, while Ryan Johansen is on a season-high five-game points streak and has collected two assists in each of his last two games.
Pekka Rinne is likely to be back in net for Nashville on Thursday, though the reigning Vezina Trophy winner is still battling through a slump. Rinne is 7-11-2 with a .895 save percentage and 3.16 goals against average over his last 21 games.
Carey Price is expected to start for the Canadiens. Price has a .944 save percentage and a 7-0-1 record over his last eight starts.
Montreal forward Paul Byron is still recovering from a forearm injury and has been ruled out for the entirety of the Canadiens' three-game road trip.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 13, 2019