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Canadiens at Canucks: Five things you should know

Montreal Canadiens forward Joel Armia scores on Vancouver Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko in first-period action in Vancouver on Jan. 21, 2021.
Montreal Canadiens forward Joel Armia scores on Vancouver Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko in first-period action in Vancouver on Jan. 21, 2021.

Here are five things you should know about the Canadiens-Canucks game at Rogers Arena on Monday (10 p.m.,TSN2, RDS, TSN-690  Radio) :

The matchup: The Canadiens start a six-game Western Canada road trip with games against the Canucks Monday and Wednesday. The two teams have already met five times and Montreal collected nine of a possible 10 points with four wins and a shootout loss. The Canadiens are coming off a commanding 7-1 win over Winnipeg Saturday at the Bell Centre while the Canucks rallied to beat Toronto 4-2 and have won two in a row. Vancouver is in sixth place in the Canadian division with 24 points. They trail the fourth-place Canadiens by four points, but Montreal holds five games in hand.

Toffoli loves Vancouver: Tyler Toffoli enjoyed playing for the Canucks as a trade deadline addition last season, but he absolutely loves playing against the Canucks. In the five games earlier this season, Toffoli collected eight goals and three assists. He’s just shy of a point-a-game pace against Vancouver for his career with 32 points, including 22 goals, in 33 games. Toffoli has scored goals in each of the past three games and he has 15 for the season. That ties him with Connor McDavid for No. 2 in the NHL. They are three goals behind the leader, Toronto’s Auston Matthews.

Price is back on track: Goaltender Carey Price also enjoys playing against the Canucks. The B.C. native has a 15-2-4 record against Vancouver with a 2.31 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage. Price has been inconsistent this season and although he is 2-0-1 in earlier starts against Vancouver, he had a dismal .890 save percentage. His struggles in the net prompted general manager Marc Bergevin to make goaltending coach Stéphane Waite the scapegoat. The good news is that Price has not only won his last two starts, but he has stopped 54 of 56 shots in those games for an impressive .964 save percentage.

Offensive defencemen clash: This game will showcase two of the league’s top-scoring defencemen. Jeff Petry and Vancouver’s Quinn Hughes are tied with Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman for the scoring lead among  defencemen. They each have 22 points while Petry is the leading goal-scorer in the group after notching his eighth Saturday. Petry also has the best plus/minus rating in the group, which is reflective of the Canadiens’ play at even strength. He is plus-15, Hedman is plus-10 and Hughes is minus-16. Petry has the second-best plus/minus in the league behind defence partner Joel Edmundson, who is plus-22.

Good offence, bad defence: The Canucks have some firepower on their top two lines, but they lack depth and their defence has given up 3.32 goals a game to rank 28th in the league. Brock Boeser is among the league leaders in goals with 13 and leads the Canucks with 27 points. J.T. Miller has six goals among his 22 points and is tied with Hughes. Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat have 10 goals each, but Vancouver isn’t getting its money’s worth from Brandon Sutter or Tanner Pearson. The Canucks signed free-agent goaltender Braden Holtby, but the former Vézina Trophy winner has struggled behind a porous defence and has posted a 4-6-1 record with a 3.56 GAA and an .893 save percentage.

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