ROCKET SPORTS MEDIA | LAVAL, QC. — It wasn’t a good week for the Canadiens as they lost two of the three home games, bringing their record to 14-16-6 at the Bell Centre this season. When Marc Bergevin met the media on Monday, he said that the record on home ice was a disappointment.
On Tuesday, Montreal took a 2-0 lead 7:23 into the game against Vancouver when Travis Green called a timeout to wake up his team. The Canucks scored the next two goals to tie the game, and after Jordan Weal gave his team another lead in the third period, Vancouver tied the score and went on to win 4-3 in overtime.
“The loss happened for certain reasons, whether it was mistakes or whatever, but I think the attitude was good and the effort was there. We had some trouble with puck management tonight. On the overtime goal, we got caught with tired players on the ice, and that’s what happens,” said Claude Julien. Max Domi, Paul Byron, and Jeff Petry were on the ice for the entire 1:35 duration of the overtime.
On Thursday, the Canadiens took a 2-0 lead before allowing five unanswered goals to lose 5-2 against the Rangers. It was the second time this season that the Blue Shirts bounced back in a game against the Habs, the first time being on November 23rd when they overcame a 4-0 deficit to head to a 6-5 overtime win.
“We played a good game for 40 minutes and we felt good being up 2-1 after two periods. But we made a mistake, they got a bounce and they tied it up and then they scored on a power play. We made mistakes in the D-zone and they capitalized. I don’t know why we let them come back, but we have to figure it out,” said Tomas Tatar.
On Saturday, Montreal took a 3-0 lead in the first 24 minutes of the game, that forced Carolina to make a change in goal. Any guesses on what happened next? You’re correct, the Hurricanes scored three unanswered goals to force the game to overtime, where Petry scored the winner on a breakaway.
“I found that we played well, especially during two periods. I won’t tell you that we played a bad third, we attacked, we tried shooting on net, we got chances,” said Julien.
The Habs will travel to New York on Monday in preparation for Tuesday’s contest against the Islanders and that will be followed by a trip to the state of Florida to face the Lightning on Thursday, and the Panthers on Saturday.
Trade Deadline Day
Trade deadline day was relatively quiet from the Canadiens perspective, as I anticipated. Nate Thompson and Nick Cousins where traded to the Flyers and the Golden Knights respectively for draft picks, while Matthew Peca was traded to the Senators in an AHL trade.
On a side note, was I the only one that found it hilarious that in his first game with his new team, Cousins scored a power play goal?
Many experts and fans were disappointed that Tatar and Petry weren’t traded considering the prices that was being paid on the market. I wasn’t expecting nor disagree that they weren’t moved last week. Sellers primarily acquire draft picks at the deadline, and the Canadiens have more than enough with 14 picks this year.
Plan Going Forward
The major discussion following Bergevin’s press conference was the organization’s plan going forward. From what I was able to decipher, the plan is to build through the draft while trying to clinch a playoff spot.
The concern that I have with that approach is that it’s two plans. Running the two plans in parallel will only lead to the same results over and over. Management needs to have one direction, either blow the roster up for a youth movement or sacrifice some of the prospects in order to build a contender to win quickly.
The next opportunity to improve the team via transaction will be in the off season, where Pierre Lebrun reported in The Athletic that the general managers he spoke to are expecting a busy summer for the Canadiens. In an interview with LaPresse, Bergevin said that he will consider trading a forward in order to acquire the defence.
Lindgren Gets an Opportunity
“I’m not even going there. He’s had a break, guys ask questions that make sense,” said an upset Julien when asked after the Rangers game whether he’s concerned of Carey Price’s usage. Price had started in goal for 17 of the last 18 games, and led the league with 55 starts this season.
Charlie Lindgren got the start in goal for the fifth time of the season on Saturday and made 27 saves to obtain his second win of the season. It was his fist start since February 4th. The role of the backup goalie is to give his team a chance to win, and Lindgren accomplished that against the Hurricanes.
“I thought Charlie (Lindgren) played well. He had a lot of traffic in front of the net, but he made some big saves, especially towards the end of regulation,” said the coach after the game.
With the Canadiens being all but eliminated from earning a playoff spot, there’s no reason that Price should continue starting at the same pace.
“We’ll see. I’m pretty sure you’re going to see him again,” said Julien on Saturday whether Lindgren will get more starts. “If he plays well, why not? So absolutely.”
It’s no secret that Bergevin attempted to acquire a backup goalie on deadline day. Did he still think that they had a chance of making it into the playoffs?
It doesn’t sound like the head coach and the general manager trust Lindgren as their backup goalie. With nothing left to gain for the balance of the season, it’s the perfect opportunity to give Lindgren regular starts.
This will allow the organization to decide whether they need to look for a backup goalie in the off season or if they need to move on from Lindgren, who is under contract for the 2020-21 season.
During TVA Sports’ pregame show on Saturday, former NHL coach Michel Bergeron said that Julien should call a timeout if his team takes a 2-0 lead. Bergeron knew that it wouldn’t happen, but it’s sad that it was actually reasonable to make that suggestion with the way that the team has been recently blowing leads.
When the Hurricanes scored to make it a 3-1 game, the players, coaches, and fans became nervous, which led to a 3-3 tie. It was a positive finish on Saturday for only fourth time in the 14 times that Montreal has had a two-goal lead this season.
“You know what? Honestly, I don’t know. And the reason I say I don’t know is because our game plan is to go out there and play 60 minutes the same way. We ask the players to play the same way,” said a furious Julien after the Rangers game. ‘I don’t know’ aren’t words that you would like to hear from the individual whose job is to find solutions.
“We can’t play for the players. At some point, it has to come from them, to stop saying they’re lacking confidence and to start playing the right way,” added the coach. It was the second time in the last two weeks that Julien separates himself from his players.
Bergevin gave the vote of confidence to the coaching staff and had similar messaging when he spoke about the team’s inconsistency saying that the coaches have done their part, and now the players need to figure it out.
“Well, it’s always good when your GM gives you that vote of confidence. But you’ve heard that before, right? And two weeks later coach is gone,” responded Julien when asked about the general manager’s support.
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