The Montreal Canadiens (11-6-3) haven’t missed back-to-back playoffs since the turn of the millennium. They’d earn a Wild Card berth in the Eastern Conference if the regular season ended today, but they’re only 20 games in, so there’s a lot more work to do – including Wednesday’s matchup with the New Jersey Devils (8-9-2). Sportsnet One has the coverage from Newark starting at 7 PM ET.
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The Devils, who are off to a slow start in 2018-19 after ending their five-year postseason drought, will have to play this one without their top defenseman. Sami Vatanen (22:16 ice time per game) was placed on injured reserve Saturday with an unspecified lower-body ailment. Vatanen isn’t eligible to return until Friday.
Montreal have played all season without their top defenseman and new team captain, Shea Weber, who isn’t expected back from offseason knee surgery until early December – which is already ahead of schedule. They’ve made up for it in part with strong puck possession in the offensive zone, but poor face-offs aren’t helping matters; the Habs are last in the league at 45.1%. That includes 42.4% from their preferred second-line option, leading scorer Max Domi (10 goals, 14 assists).
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