ROCKET SPORTS MEDIA | LAVAL, QC. —The Canadiens played three games on the road last week and returned home with two points in the standings.
The trip started on Tuesday night with a 6-2 win against the Islanders. Charles Hudon scored his first goal of the season with a wrist shot that beat Thomas Greiss on the blocker side.
“I just like the way we played, I thought we were pretty solid in all areas, you know we scored goals by going to the net we created some traffic there. I thought we played well defensively you know we didn’t give them much,” said Claude Julien after the game.
Tomas Tatar left the game in the first period with an upper body injury. A timeline on his return is expected to be announced in the upcoming days.
The Lightning easily beat the Canadiens 4-0 on Thursday. It was the first time of the season that Montreal was kept off the score sheet. The result was expected when you compared the roster sheets of both teams prior to puck drop. Julien had to dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen as Brendan Gallagher didn’t dress for the game due to the flu.
“We worked hard, we had chances, we had everything, but we didn’t have the finish. We couldn’t score. I think the 4-0 kind of score doesn’t really tell the tale of the game, except that they’re a way more talented team tonight than we had as far as the lineup was concerned. But the compete level and the work ethic and all that stuff, I have nothing to complain about from our team. They tried hard and we just didn’t have enough,” said the coach.
On Saturday, Jake Evans scored his team’s only goal as the Panthers went on to win 4-1. The Habs weren’t able to capitalize on a power play sequence that lasted 4:50 in the second period, including a stretch of 1:10 with a two-man advantage.
“I don’t know if it was a turning point, but I think we could have done a much better job 5-on-3. For some reason we were shooting from far out, we weren’t taking the time to bring the puck a little closer to the net and create some better chances. We still had lots of time four minutes and another two minutes and would have been good to score on that, it would have made probably a difference in the game,” Julien asked to comment on the missed opportunity.
The Canadiens host the Predators on Tuesday and the Sabres on Thursday before headed on a four-game west coast road trip beginning against the Ducks on Sunday afternoon.
Marc Bergevin Media Tour
Marc Bergevin took advantage of the general manager meetings in Boca Raton last week to go on a media tour as he gave several interviews to all the team’s broadcast rights holders and to national outlets.
You can bet a few dollars that Paul Wilson, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs and Communications, spearheaded this tour following the negative press that was written on the organization after the general manager met the media on trade deadline and didn’t do a good job communicating the organizations next steps.
Vote of Confidence
After showing his support on deadline day, Bergevin reiterated that Julien will be coaching the team at the start of next season. In Bergevin’s opinion, the performance on the ice wasn’t a coaching issue, and it was a shared responsibility between himself, the coaching staff, and the players. He believes that the current roster is a playoff team if they remained healthy and played to its optimum level.
“For me, it’s great. It’s nice to know that he still has a lot of confidence in our coaching staff, and for us, we’re working hard and we’re trying to make this team better,” responded Julien on the vote of confidence.
Bergevin also showed his support to assistant general manager Trevor Timmins, who also gets criticized by some people in the media and fan base for drafting selections under his tenure.
It’s hard to find the right word to describe social media’s reaction to the news of what seems to be no major changes to the organization’s hockey operations. It was overwhelmingly negative as they are fed up with lack of results.
From Bergevin’s perspective, keeping Julien to start next season is a smart move. By doing so, he would be buying himself some time. If he’s unable to improve the team again in the off-season, and the team is off to a slow start, it would be Julien’s fault since they’ve been clear that they think it’s a playoff team. If Julien gets fired before the 2020-21 season, a slow start would mean that Bergevin failed to improve the roster.
We haven’t heard Geoff Molson giving his vote of confidence to the general manager, therefore I take Bergevin’s support of Julien with a grain of salt.
Cole Caufield’s Future
The Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey season ended on Saturday as they lost 2-1 against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals.
From the Canadiens perspective, it means that Cole Caufield is now available to sign a professional contract to join the organization. Caufield finished the season with 19 goals and 17 assists in 36 games.
Bergevin provided inconsistent messaging about Caufield’s future during his media tour. In his interview with Mathias Brunet in LaPresse, Bergevin said that the organization thinks that Caufield’s not ready for professional hockey, and that they will recommend that he stays in Wisconsin next year.
A couple of days later, Bergevin left the door open that Caufield may join the professional level next year, in his interview with RDS’ Chantal Machabee. The decision will be made after a discussion will be had between the organization, the player, family, and agent. On Saturday night, Renaud Lavoie from TVA Sports reported that a decision is expected this week.
“That’s a huge decision to make in the upcoming weeks,” Caufield told the Wisconsin State Journal on February 28th. “For right now, I want to play here as long as I can. I want to make a run here with the guys. When that time comes, I guess that’ll be the time to make the decision. I’m not making it now. I’m not worried about it.”
Based on the scouting reports that I have read, I think that Bergevin’s initial response would be the best one for the player’s development.
A second year in Wisconsin won’t hurt his development. There’s no reason for the organization to rush his development. The Canadiens have never done that before (insert sarcasm here).
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