The Montreal Canadiens kick off their annual California road trip this Monday night in San Jose. The trip consists of three games in four nights against some pretty tough Western opponents, and let me tell you, California has not been kind to Montreal in the past.
The Canadiens held a record of 0-2-1 on this three game stand last season. The year before that, they went 1-2-0. The issue with the California road trip is that more often than not, every year, you’re playing three very good teams. Montreal is not the only club to have suffered at the hands of this deathly road trip, as other teams have also had a hard time. Even so, the Canadiens need to find a way to compete and at least give these teams a go. It is a more difficult road trip than most, seeing as the time change is quite significant for Montreal, making it tough for players to adapt their sleep schedules and stay well rested.
San Jose Has Dominated The Canadiens At Home
The Canadiens have especially struggled with playing in San Jose, having lost 4-0 to them last season and 4-0 the season before that as well. Usually the Canadiens look dull and out of gas while playing the Sharks each year in San Jose. In both of the past two years, they were man-handled by the Sharks quite easily. A cause of this is certainly the change in time zones between Montreal and San Jose, but more importantly, the Sharks have been a very good hockey team. The Canadiens haven’t actually won a game in San Jose since November of 1999, beating the Sharks 3-2 in overtime on that night. I wouldn’t expect that long streak to be broken this Monday night either.
The Kings, Ducks, and Sharks sit one, two, and three in the Pacific Division standings (in that order). Due to back-to-back games in this three game set, you can expect to see a little bit of both Mike Condon and Ben Scrivens manning the crease for Montreal during this road trip. Season-ending injuries to both Tom Gilbert and Jeff Petry have left the Canadiens blue line fragile. With Nathan Beaulieu also currently out with a lower-body injury, the Habs’ new look on defence will certainly have their work cut out for them this week, playing against some heavily-skilled Pacific Division opponents.
(Featured image courtesy of Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)