Wanna blog? Start your own hockey blog with My HockeyBuzz. Register for free today!

In Hainsight: It Wasn't Groundhog Day

March 15, 2023, 4:34 PM ET [177 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Follow me @KarineHains for all updates about the Montreal Canadiens and women's hockey

After 5 minutes of play, Crosby and co. had taken a 2-0 lead over the Canadiens and it looked like they were on pace to have their way with them much like MacKinnon and co. had done the night before, but Samuel Montembeault (and Tristan Jarry) decided it wasn’t to be. After surrendering a pair of goals, the Canadiens’ netminder steadied himself and by the time the Pens were able to beat him again, the Habs had scored 4 first period goals.

It’s not that Montreal started dominating, far from it, the Habs only managed to send 7 shots to Jarry’s net in the first, but somehow, 4 of them found their way in. Hoffman, Ylonen, Gurianov and Edmundson fooled the Pens netminder who understandably didn’t come back for the 2nd frame. Casey DeSmith took over and shut the door for 20 minutes during which he was only tested 4 times. Meanwhile, the Pens tied things up. The Habs came out strong in the 3rd though and Anthony Richard got the game-winning goal early before Anderson got the insurance marker in an empty net.

Montembeault might have given 4 goals, but he did multiply the spectacular saves and stop 39 shots, without him, the Habs would definitely not have escaped Pittsburgh with 2 points. Aside from Montembeault, Justin Barron also had a strong night in his return from injury. He drove the play and was instrumental in 2 of the Canadiens’ goals getting a pair of helpers for his trouble. He also delivered more than his fair share of hits with 5, more than was expected from a guy who had just overcome a concussion. Mike Matheson also got himself an assist but was more visible in the defensive end when he blocked 6 shots. As for Jonathan Drouin, he registered a couple more assists making it 24 on the season and 25 points in 45 games. While I doubt this will be enough to make the Habs offer him an extension, he might just be securing himself an NHL contract elsewhere for next season.

With that 6-4 win, the Canadiens swept the season series against the Penguins for the first time in 19 years, although the other 2 wins were grabbed in overtime and could have gone either way, it’s still noteworthy. That was also the Habs’ first win after 7 straight defeats, and it will no doubt do wonders for the team’s morale.

This morning, the Canadiens announced that they had signed prospect Jayden Struble to a 2-year entry level contract which will kick in next season. As reported earlier this week, Struble’s college career came to an end this weekend. Montreal had until August 15th to ink him to a deal before their hold on his rights expired and Kent Hughes got down to business quickly. While some Struble wouldn’t sign because the Canadiens have got so many left shooting young defensemen, his relationship with both Hughes and skills coach Adam Nicholas must have been factors in his decision making. Struble knows that he’s not NHL ready yet and that he’ll need time to develop in the AHL, so sticking with the team who believed in him and drafted him to pursue his development was the right thing to do.

Struble also signed an AHL contract which will allow him to join the Rocket to finish the year and get a first taste of professional hockey. I’m not sure there will be room for Struble with the Habs eventually, but this is good asset management from Hughes, he’s signed him to a contract and if he sees down the line that he’ll be surplus to requirement, he can always trade him to another team. Time will tell how this one ends, but taking the time to develop and evaluate him is exactly what a rebuilding team should do.

The NHL announced this morning that the draft lottery would be held on May 8th, time to mark your calendars Habs fans. Even with last night’s win, the Habs didn’t go up in the standings since the Coyotes also won against the Flames to remain a point ahead of Montreal. As for the Flyers, they are a single point behind the Canadiens and they’ve got a game in end… there’s still a chance that the Habs will finish in the bottom 5. Right now, the team has a 7.5% chance of winning the Connor Bedard derby.

Join the Discussion: » 177 Comments » Post New Comment
More from Karine Hains
» Picture Day on a Memorable Season for the Wrong Reason
» In Hainsight: Good Fight, Expected Result
» Pregame: Canadiens vs Lightning
» In Hainsight: Defenseless
» Pregame : Canadiens vs Panthers