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In Hainsight: Holy Datsyukian Captain!

November 20, 2022, 3:48 PM ET [104 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Follow me @KarineHains for all updates about the Montreal Canadiens and women's hockey

Just like on Thursday against the Blue Jackets, the Canadiens found themselves in a 2-0 hole early in the opening frame against the Flyers. Within 3 minutes, Jake Allen had given 2 goals and Mike Matheson was -2 in his return to action and first game as a Montreal Canadiens. Thankfully, the Habs were able to shake it off and get right back into the game, with a Dvorak goal created by a Xhekaj shot and Gallagher’s tireless work and a Cole Caufield power play goal. After 20 minutes, the score was 2-2.

Each team would score two more times in regulation, including Matheson’s first goal in his new uniform which came from Nick Suzuki’s playmaking prowess and a Cole Caufield equalizer in the dying seconds after a Suzuki perfect cross zone pass. An equalizer so spectacular, that even John Tortorella, the Flyers' coach couldn't help but smile.

To say that the Canadiens’ captain played an excellent game would be an understatement. The first line center spent just shy of 25 minutes on the ice, won 75% of his face-offs and was the sole scorer with a dazzling move in the shootout, so far this year, he really looks like the Red Wings’ legend when he’s all alone with the goaltenders.

While fans thoroughly enjoyed the show, it was far from a defensive masterpiece and the Habs committed an astronomical 25 turnovers. In the 3rd period, Martin St-Louis really cut his bench which Jurak Slafkovsky and Michael Pezzetta barely seeing the ice and the injured Mike Hoffman not playing at all. According to St-Louis’ post game comments, Hoffman was injured and had told him that he could play on the power play but that was all. The coach preferred not to use him though, even when the Habs were deploying 6 skaters and really pressing on to get the game to overtime.

With a shortened bench, the Canadiens’ first line saw plenty of action, even though Caufield and Dach played less than Suzuki, they did spend 22:48 and 21:18 on the ice respectively. The 3 players have been together for 11 games now and their production has been impressive, Suzuki’s got 16 points (8-8) in that span, Caufield 13 (6-7) and Dach 13 as well (3-10). Even more remarkable, in 18 games, the newly minted captain has got 23 points to his name and he’s on pace for a total of 105 points. There’s no guarantee that he will keep this frantic rhythm, but just the possibility is exciting, considering how starved for offense this team has been for so long.

For once, the goaltending wasn’t great for the Tricolore last night, a couple of goals went in from far out and there’s no doubt that Jake Allen would have liked to see those again. It was a tough night on the blue line as well as the defensemen turned the puck over way too often. Things looked to be going too fast at times for the newly formed pair of Xhekaj-Kovacevic and even for the Edmundson-Matheson pairing. While it’s understandable that Matheson is not quite in game form yet, Edmundson has been back for 8 games, and he needs to find his rhythm. As for Kaiden Guhle, he had a good night, landing a couple of great hits and absolutely rocking Laughton as the Canadiens were killing a penalty. It really is a joy to see the way he plays and handles himself on both sides of the puck. He’s reliable defensively and St-Louis isn’t shy of using him in overtime either, thanks to his fluid skating and offensive awareness.

The Habs will now be back in action on Tuesday against Buffalo and Wednesday against the Blue Jackets before playing their last game of the week on Friday afternoon against the Blackhawks as our southern neighbors will enjoy a bank holiday for Thanksgiving.
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