The Montreal Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes have combined for just 39 points, which underscores how important Monday’s meeting in Glendale is for both teams if they want to avoid being the worst team in the National Hockey League.
Montreal has truly had nothing go right for it despite being months removed from playing in the Stanley Cup Final. Thanks to a bunch of COVID postponements, the NHL holiday break, and a five-game losing streak, the Canadiens haven’t won in over a month. The Habs almost upset the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday but they blew a third-period lead and then lost in overtime on a Philipp Kurashev goal. Sam Montembeault played well in net in the loss.
The Coyotes followed up a huge win over the Toronto Maple Leafs with a pair of tough home-and-home losses against the Colorado Avalanche over the weekend. Arizona fell in a shootout on Friday — rookie netminder Ivan Prosvetov had 44 saves to get the Coyotes a point — and then was shut out 5-0 on Saturday with starter Karel Vejmelka not playing his best.
The NHL betting lines peg this game as a pretty evenly matched contest with the Canadiens being slight favorites.
Game: Montreal Canadiens (7-24-5; 19 points) at Arizona Coyotes (8-24-4; 20 points)
Location: Gila River Arena
Day/Time: Monday, January 17, 4 p.m. ET
Montreal Canadiens at Arizona Coyotes
Vejmelka Has Been Better Than Stats Suggest
When you’re the No. 1 goalie for a rebuilding team at the bottom of the NHL standings, like Vejmelka is, your goals-against average is never going to be pretty regardless of how well you’ve played. Vejmelka’s 3.27 GAA is ugly, for sure, but he has managed a .906 save percentage and has played pretty well — all things considered — as of late.
He struggled in the loss to the Avalanche on Saturday but likely will be called on again to get the start on Monday against Montreal. Vejmelka was incredible against Toronto, saving 45 of the 46 shots he faced from one of the most explosive teams in the league. He also faced an offensive barrage from the Avalanche a few days later and didn’t have his best game.
Either way, the Canadiens are not nearly as talented as the Maple Leafs or Avalanche so things should be a bit easier for Vejmelka. If you’re betting online, you should back the Coyotes straight-up against a Montreal team that is 2-14-4 on the road and likely will go with a struggling Montembeault again. Also, the Canadiens have lost eight road games in a row.
Things Bleak for Montreal on Both Ends
The statistics aren’t pretty for both Montreal and Arizona but things are especially ugly for the Canadiens’ offense. They’re last in the NHL in goals per game, power-play percentage, and shot percentage with no reinforcements really on the way. It’s going to be a long, long season in Quebec.
Total Goals Scored
Canadiens: 76 goals in 36 games
Islanders: 67 goals in 30 games
Panthers: 50 goals in last 8 games
— The Hockey News (@TheHockeyNews) January 16, 2022
Montreal is slightly better on the defensive side, as the Canadiens are third-worst in the NHL in goals allowed per game but they have given up a ton of shots (seventh-most) and still have a collective sub-.900 save percentage. The Coyotes have actually been worse in the net and on defense but Arizona has at least shown life in recent weeks. The same cannot be said for the Canadiens, so it’s at least a little surprising that they aren’t plus-money on the BetUS Sportsbook.