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Ready to Start: Blackhawks at Canadiens Preview

The Blackhawks begin their road trip through eastern Canada on Tuesday evening.

Chicago Blackhawks v Montreal Canadiens
Laurent Dauphin of the Montreal Canadiens attempts a wraparound shot during a game against the Chicago Blackhawks
Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images

Oh boy, it’s Valentine’s Day. What better love letter to one of your sister Original Six teams than letting them beat you?

At least, that’s what the Chicago Blackhawks’ strategy should be against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night. Although, head coach Luke Richardson is likely seeking a revenge win against the team that overlooked him for the head coaching job and went in a completely different direction.

The Blackhawks come into this one losing two of their three games since the All-Star Break, with their lone win coming against the Coyotes. Montreal, meanwhile, is 2-0 in the month of February, with wins over the Islanders and Oilers.

The Canadiens are 22-27-4 this season, at the bottom of the Atlantic Division. They’ve both scored the fewest goals and allowed the most in their division. They’re still managing to outscore the Blackhawks, however, although Chicago is allowing fewer goals.

Part of the problem for Montreal is their extensive list of players on injured reserve. Goaltender Carey Price is not expect to play this season after missing all of 2021-22, and his career could be done. The Canadiens are also down Cole Caulfield for the rest of the season, as well as missing Paul Byron, Jonathan Drouin (although Drouin could return on Tuesday), first overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky and Sean Monahan. The Canadiens most recently lost Arber Xhekaj on Sunday and lost Joel Edmundson right before the break.

The Canadiens are led by Nick Suzuki, the team’s franchise center, who has scored 17 goals and 42 points in 53 games this season. Caulfield scored 26 goals in 46 games before getting injured for the season, while former Blackhawk Kirby Dach has scored 35 points in 53 games, including 12 goals. Dach is also serving as Montreal’s second-line center.

Montreal’s goaltending is not doing the best, with Sam Montembeault at a .909 save percentage and starter Jake Allen sitting at a .892 mark. Neither has successfully completed a shutout so far this season.

The good news for the Canadiens is that those three are three of the team’s most important young players. The bad news is that no other Canadiens player has more than 21 points this season, with Slafkovsky, their No. 1 pick, scoring just 10 points in 39 games.

With the way both teams are playing, it will be surprising if the Blackhawks pull off a Valentine’s Night win.

Let’s go IceHogs.

Tale of the Tape

Blackhawks — Statistic — Canadiens

43.01% (32nd) — Corsi For — 46.64% (26th)

41.12% (31st) — Expected goals for — 43.79% (29th)

2.45 (31st) — Goals per game — 2.64 (29th)

3.61 (26th) — Goals against per game — 3.66 (28th)

55.6% (1st) — Faceoffs — 49.5% (18th)

18.5% (26th) — Power play — 16.4% (28th)

75.8% (22nd) — Penalty kill — 72.9% (30th)

How to watch

When: 6 p.m. CT

Where: Centre Bell, Montreal

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Live stream: NBC Sports app, ESPN+