ROCKET SPORTS MEDIA | LAVAL, QC. — The Canadiens had a successful week collecting four of the possible six points. Montreal scored four unanswered goals against Pittsburgh on Tuesday to go on to a 4-1 road win.
“I kind of anticipated we would be a little bit rusty, but the first period was over and we were only down by one goal. We knew we needed to pick up our game. I thought our passes were off and we weren’t creating much on the offensive side of things, but we came out and played a solid second. I thought we played a smart third period and didn’t give them a ton of chances. We did a good job backchecking and breaking up plays and then we sealed the deal in the third,” analyzed Claude Julien.
The following night, Ben Chiarot scored his first career overtime goal to help his team extend their win streak to three games with a 3-2 win against the Senators on home ice. “It’s nice [to score] against the team that beat us in overtime last time, so get a little payback. It’s a fun place to play every game. Scoring a goal in overtime makes it that much better,” said Chiarot post-game.
On Saturday, the Habs weren’t able to beat the 31st ranked Red Wings at the Bell Centre, losing by a score of 2-1. Montreal outshot Detroit 43-20. “We did not get enough quality scoring chances, and when we did, we didn’t bury them,” Brendan Gallagher said.
“There were some guys that went to the front of net but we had a lot of guys that didn’t
want to get on the inside there,” added the coach. “I felt we played a little bit soft tonight at times and you know, we weren’t finishing, we weren’t in the battle and we just kind of looked to play an easier game than we should have, and because of that we got burnt.”
The loss to Detroit gave Montreal a 7-8-2 record against non-playoff teams this season. Julien doesn’t think that his team plays down to the level of his opponents, however is concerned with his team’s 8-8-3 home record. “We’ve been good on the road. We haven’t been good enough at home, we don’t play as hard at home so far we haven’t played as hard as we have on the road. So that needs to change.”
The Canadiens will pack their bags and head on the road for a seven game road trip starting this week with three games. The team will be in Vancouver on Tuesday, followed by a trip to Alberta to face Calgary on Thursday and Edmonton on Saturday.
The Habs are barely holding on to a playoff spot right now as they are third place in the Atlantic division. To reach the 98-point mark that was needed last season to enter the playoffs in the Eastern conference, they would need to win more consistently.
“We’re not in a bad spot. But there’s a real battle that every night, there’s some movement there in the standings. And, you know, we’re in that situation right now. And if we don’t win on a regular basis, we’re going to slide down. And I’d like us to win a little bit more on a consistent basis so that we can move up,” commented the coach after Saturday’s game.
Molson Committed to Playoff Appearance
“Every game will be important and stressful for everyone. We will do whatever it takes to make it into the playoffs,” Canadiens owner Geoff Molson told reporters on Tuesday in Pebble Beach where the Board of Governors meeting was held.
I would assume that at this point of the season, we all agree that the Canadiens are a bubble team that will fight until the end for a chance to clinch an opportunity to participate in the post season.
Molson also added that he has confidence in the players, coaching staff, and management team. What happens if they don’t succeed? I’ve written in this column before that if they fail to clinch a spot, I think that it should cost Marc Bergevin his job.
If that’s Molson’s intention, you can’t allow Bergevin to complete trades without supervision. Anyone who knows that their job is on the line will take desperate actions to try to save themselves.
A desperate move for a GM would be to trade prospects, or draft picks for a short term fix. In my opinion, I feel that a team should consider overpaying on a trade only when they feel that they’re a contender. The Canadiens aren’t one player away from being a contender.
In the Canadiens current situation, who would oversee Bergevin to make sure that any trades are good for the organization? The answer is that in the current structure, the responsibility would fall to Molson.
With all due respect to the Canadiens owner, he’s not a hockey man, he’s a business man. Molson doesn’t have the appropriate skill set to evaluate trades and roster moves made by Bergevin.
Speaking about business, Forbes Magazine unveiled its 2019 edition of the NHL’s most valuable teams. The Canadiens are ranked third with a current value of $1.34 billion, a three percent increase compared to a year ago, when the team missed the playoffs and the Bell Centre wasn’t selling out. They are second in the league for revenue ($243 million) and operating income ($106 million).
Missing the playoffs isn’t a big deal from a business perspective. If Molson wants to bring back the Stanley Cup to Montreal as he claims, he needs to bring the help he needs to accomplish it.
Primeau First NHL Win
Wednesday’s win against the Senators marked Cayden Primeau‘s first win in the NHL. He made 35 saves and was named the first star of the game, and became the fifth youngest goalie in Montreal’s history to record first win.
I think that Primeau played well in his first two starts in the NHL, and I think he has a future in the league. Between Laval and Montreal, Primeau has played 15 games of professional hockey. To build on his potential, I think that Primeau needs to get a lot of action.
“Do we make him play once every four or five games or does he risk playing more often so we can give him a chance to improve? These are decisions that will have to be made along the way. We see a goalie that’s doing a good job and has a nice future in front of him, but how we’ll manage it from now until the end of the season, is a question that doesn’t only get asked here, but internally as well,” said Julien after the game.
On Saturday, the Canadiens assigned Primeau to the Rocket and recalled Charlie Lindgren to travel with the team to western Canada this week. I have a feeling that both goalies will be going back and forth between the NHL and AHL until the end of the season.
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