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In Hainsight: Empty Tank in a Loss to the Canucks

November 13, 2023, 2:44 PM ET [425 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Follow me @KarineHains for all updates about the Montreal Canadiens and women's hockey

The Habs were playing a second game in as many days at the Bell Center last night and it looked like they had left it all on the ice the night before. Compared to the high-octane intense game they played against Boston on Saturday night, the Canadiens looked uninspired and out of juice. Well, most of them anyways.

One player looked full of energy; 19-year-old sophomore Juraj Slafkovsky took a team-high six shots on goals. None of them went in, so he’s still stuck on two points, but he got himself in the right position to do some damage. Clearly, there’s still some nervousness in his game, he missed a few passes that could have left to scoring chance. On one of them a simple low shot forcing a kick save which could have bounced straight to Caufield who was speeding down the middle would have done just fine, but Slafkovsky is really aware of who’s the goal scorer is supposed to be, and he wanted to get him the puck. The more cynical will tell you that it all means nothing because the goals just aren’t coming, but Slafkovsky is learning to play the game at a higher level than he’s ever played before and that’s not an easy or quick process.

In this 5-2 defeat, the Canadiens got yet another goal waived off after a coach’s challenge showed the play was offside. Once again, Cole Caufield was the guilty party, getting into the zone ages before the puck carrier was in. To be fair, life away from Nick Suzuki hasn’t been great for Caufield, he looks kind of lost out there and he’s yet to get in synch with his linemates. Breaking the dynamic duo to have the sniper play alongside Kirby Dach would be one thing but saddling him with Christian Dvorak just isn’t working. No offense to Dvorak, but he’s not a top-six center.

Since the lines were changed, the five-on-five goals have all but dried up. Most of the offense is coming on the power play or in overtime. Yes, the Monahan line has been good so far this season, but if you want Caufield to produce at even strength he needs to be with a real top-six center, one that has the hockey IQ necessary to create golden scoring chances for the man to bury. Perhaps the time has come to try Dvorak alongside Pearson and Gallagher and give Monahan a chance between Slafkovsky and Caufield.

The Canadiens held their own for as long as they could last night but once the Canucks had taken a three-goal lead, they looked like their skates were heavier than ever and like there just wasn’t enough gas left in the tank. To be fair, the best team won last night, and it wasn’t at all surprising considering how much effort the Canadiens put in Saturday’s game. At least though, so far this season, the Habs have more than held their own against the two best teams in the league, the Golden Knight and the Bruins, this team is capable of great things, but they’ve got to find a way to do it in a constant manner. For a rebuilding team going through growing pains, taking two out of four points away from the opposition really wasn’t a bad result and it’s a reminder that this team is progressing even though there’s experience to be acquired and a few pieces still missing.

The Canadiens will be enjoying a day off today before getting back at it tomorrow to face the Calgary Flames at the Bell Centre. Prior to the game, Pierre Turgeon will be honored as the latest player to join the Canadiens’ Ring of Honor, since he has been called to the Hall of Fame.
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