Montreal vs. Pittsburgh: Hell on Ice

The NHL’s return from quarantine is an impossible miracle in and of itself. The form in which some teams have returned however is simply beyond comprehension. 

The matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadians was not originally set up for anything special. The Penguins missed out on the seeded bracket and were entered into the playoffs mostly due to the team’s own mistakes.

The Canadians on the other hand were something of a throwaway team when it came to these playoffs. 

However, both teams came out flying in the first two games in Toronto.The series currently sits tied at 1:1, and for this third game on August 5, Pittsburgh will be the favorites. The game will begin at 8:00pm EST with Montreal playing the role of the host. 

Montreal and Pittsburgh in the Playoffs

It's hard to describe the first two games in major detail (if you have not seen them yourself, then we will catch you up now), we will just introduce some of the major statistics. For the sake of a complete picture, we have combined the summary from the first two games. 

5thEastern Conference Finish12th
79Shots on Target62
12Penalty Minutes28
1 of 14Power Play Conversion0-6
50Faceoffs Won84
93.6%/ Matt MurraySave Percentage94.9%/ Carey Price

Pittsburgh’s advantage in the main statistics is matched by two factors: Montreal’s ferocious attitude (53 checks in the first game alone) and the inspirational play from goalie Carey Price (76 saves). 

In both games, the Penguins showed the noticeable advantage it holds over the Canadian opponents. In the third game, it would be difficult to imagine much of a difference. 

What have Pittsburgh and Montreal shown us in the first two games?

Montreal Canadian’s head coach Claude Julien was well aware of the balance of power in a pair of playoff games against Pittsburgh. From the moment the puck was dropped, a flurry of attacks from the Penguins began to strike. 

Carey Price was not among the best in the regular season (.909 sv%), but has caught fire in the playoffs and shut down most of the opposing offense. The Canadians meanwhile made a logical bet on counterattacks. 

Claude Julien - five points for Montreal's preparation and morale for the series.

But Pittsburgh relies too much on their aggressiveness in attack. Twice the Penguins did not realize five on three situation, which became significant. In terms of penetrating power, the Canadiens were definitely not inferior to Mike Sullivan's team. 

It's good that there is the skill of Jake Guenzel and Sidney Crosby, otherwise the score in the series would have been 0: 2 in favor of the Canadians.

Evgeni Malkin for two games:

  • 15 shots;

  • 3 checks;

  • 61% faceoffs won;

  • 25 and 19 minutes on ice, respectively.

It is obvious that, like the rest of Pittsburgh, Evgeni Malkin is not in the best physical condition.

Montreal - Pittsburgh Final Prediction 

Almost two days of break it's been a good stretch for Montreal to rest and Pittsburgh to radically reconsider their attitude to the series. The Canadians are unlikely to change their tactical scheme, and we will again see an assault on Carey Price as well as sharp counterattacks by the Canadiens.

But Pittsburgh may change the balance of the game towards more reliable defense. It's not good when, with such a huge advantage, Matt Murray leaves the ice completely exhausted. If Mike Sullivan assesses everything correctly, then we are in for a swing with a small margin for the Penguins.