The Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens played three times in the 2019-20 season, and through the quirk of NHL records, neither team had a losing record. The Penguins were 2-1, while Montreal was 1-1-1. Each side also handed the other a mistake-filled loss, which may have caused coaches to leave the video in a burning trash can.
The Penguins tactics were crystal clear after only a few minutes of viewing.
Montreal has speed throughout their lineup. Their speed and puck retrieval gave the Penguins fits, especially in the transition game. We will get to Montreal advantages in the following days as we begin to break down all angles of the coming Qualifying Round series.
After the Penguins gifted Montreal a 4-1 win in December, the Jan. 4 game was the middle of the three and the one which bears paying the most attention. It was a back-and-forth game. The Penguins certainly didn’t blow out Montreal and needed a furious third-period comeback to tie the game. They did get the second goal, and the game went to OT, 2-2.
The Penguins were without Sidney Crosby, Brian Dumoulin, and had not yet acquired Patrick Marleau or Jason Zucker. So, the Penguins advantage will be much more substantial in the Qualifying Round, but that doesn’t mean the styles will change.
In the December contest, it was readily apparent how the Penguins can exploit Claude Julien’s system. One thing Montreal prefers to do, or attempt to do, is barricade teams to the perimeter…