Blackhawks on Canadiens: Five Things You Need to Know

This is the first of two meetings between the two Original Six clubs that have experienced troublesome starts on and off the ice.

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Here are five things to know about the Canadiens-Blackhawks game at the Bell Center on Thursday (7 pm, TSN2, RDS, TSN-690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

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The match: This is the first of two meetings between the two Original Six clubs that have experienced troublesome starts on and off the ice. The Canadiens, who are last in the Atlantic Division with a 6-18-3 record, went through a front office purge that saw the departure of general manager Marc Bergevin and assistant general managers Trevor Timmins and Scott Mellanby. The Blackhawks are seventh in the NL Central with a 9-14-2 record and general manager Stan Bowman resigned after becoming embroiled in a cover-up of a sex abuse scandal involving a video coach. Last month, the Blackhawks fired head coach Jeremy Colliton and replaced him on an interim basis with Derek King.

Fleury’s Eye Milestone: Marc-André Fleury, who is a shoo-in for the Hockey Hall of Fame, will start in goal for the Blackhawks and the Sorel native would like nothing more than to score his 500th win in his home province. The only other goalkeepers to reach 500 wins are Quebecers Martin Brodeur, the all-time leader with 691, and Patrick Roy, with 551. Jake Allen will make his sixth consecutive start for Montreal and his 21st start in 28 games. He’s been busy replacing Carey Price, who appeared on the goalie squad Wednesday, but isn’t expected to play until after Christmas.

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Strong presence of Laval: Christian Dvorak is the latest addition to the Canadiens team’s Clinic. He suffered a lower body injury in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay. He’s on the day-to-day list, but he was scheduled to have an MRI on Wednesday and Jesse Ylonen was called from Laval to replace him. Ylonen should feel right at home with the Canadiens because the team has been forced to rely on its farm team for reinforcements as they face the longest disabled list in the NHL. The current roster includes six players who have dressed for the Rocket this season: Ylonen, Ryan Poehling, Laurent Dauphin, Michael Pezzetta, Cole Caufield and defender Corey Schueneman.

Caufield’s shooting targets: Caufield, who has been a top scorer at all levels, has been a study in frustration in his rookie season. Caufield has just one goal in 19 games and has a 2.7 percent shooting percentage. That would be the lowest among the Canadiens’ regulars if it weren’t for Joel Armia, who has one goal on 45 shots for a 2.2 percent hit rate. Caufield had some success with Nick Suzuki in the playoffs last season, but he’s currently on the third row with some extra time in the power play. If the Canadiens didn’t have as many injuries, Caufield would probably be back at Laval for more experience.

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Slowly returning toes: Jonathan Toews missed all of last season due to chronic immune response syndrome, a condition that saps his strength, but the Blackhawks captain is slowly making a comeback. He has nine assists in 25 games and is still looking for his first goal as he faces the longest goal drought of his career. He’s playing 18 minutes a game with time on both special teams. The Blackhawks’ leading scorer is defender Seth Jones with 22 points, including three. Patrick Kane has seven goals and 21 points, while the team’s top scorer is Alex DeBrincat, with 14.

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Reference-montrealgazette.com

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