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In Hainsight: No Hiding from the Truth

November 17, 2023, 4:46 PM ET [111 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Follow me @KarineHains for all updates about the Montreal Canadiens and women's hockey

Not so long ago, Martin St-Louis said that the Canadiens’ results might have been hiding some issues. Thankfully, last night, the Habs got the result they deserved putting the spotlight straight on the issues rather than on an undeserved win obtained by a fantastic goaltending performance.

Let’s get one thing straight right away, when you lose 6-5 it’s not normal that your best player on the night was your goaltender. Logic dictates that when a goalie surrenders six goals, he’s not having a great night, unless of course he’s been under fire all night with a truckload of shots. That’s exactly what happened yesterday. I’ve seen a lot of comments on social media criticizing Cayden Primeau, but the truth of the matter is, he’s the only reason why the Canadiens even came close to beating Vegas.

Right from the beginning of the game, the Canadiens were on their heels, and they spent so much time in their own zone that the ice might as well have been tilted. In the first 20 minutes alone, Vegas tested Cayden Primeau 18 times and some of these shots were high quality ones. Primeau didn’t flinch though, he stood his ground and prevented the visitor from taking what could have easily been a 4-0 lead. By some miracle, Montreal managed to score a couple of goals in that first frame. Newhook took the team’s first shot and it fooled Aiden Hill who also gave a second goal to Jonathan Kovacevic less than four minutes later. In five shots, the Habs scored twice and they ended the frame with a grand total of six shots.

The Golden Knights were absolutely relentless all night and in the second, they managed to score four goals, meaning that the score was tied at four after forty minutes. Meanwhile, the Canadiens had managed to somewhat come to their sense and got two more goals through Jesse Ylonen. The 24-year-old has been a healthy scratch seven times this season, and clearly, he’s not interested in being scratched again. His first goal came from an individual effort that led to a breakaway in which he beat Aidan Hill clear. As for his second, he completed the play set up by Pezzetta and Lindstron.

Vegas was also the better side in the final frame, even though it took a double-minor to Gallagher for them to take the lead and widen it with less than a minute 15 seconds left. It would be easy to blame Gallagher for the loss, after all, it’s his penalties which allowed the Knights to score two more goals, but the fact is he took that high sticking penalty trying to prevent a goal. It wasn’t a selfish penalty; it wasn’t a lazy hooking one trying to come back in his own zone. Besides, Vegas deserved the win, just as the Habs coach said, his team shot himself in the foot quite a few times on the night. Barron did score a fifth goal for the Habs, but by then it was too little, too late.

On the bright side of things, Alex Newhook finally scored another goal which must have relieved a ton of pressure on him, and he even added an assist. Jesse Ylonen made a strong case to spend more time in the lineup than on the press gallery and Cayden Primeau showed he can make some very big saves when needed.

The Canadiens also get full marks for the tribute they paid to Karl Tremblay, singer of the Cowboys Fringants who lost his battle to cancer Wednesday afternoon. Clearly aware of his importance for a whole people, the team didn’t just hold a minute of silence, no, they shut down the lights and invited the packed Bell Centre to sing along to one of the Cowboys’ biggest hit; Les étoiles filantes. As the crowd sang and lit up the light on their cell phone, it looked like 21 000 stars lit up the arena while Rafael Harvey-Pinard came out on the ice to hang a Tremblay 76 Canadiens’ jersey on a microphone stand. It was goosebumps worthy and then, when the song ended, the jumbotron showed another 76 Tremblay jersey hanging up in the Canadien’s locker room between Harvey-Pinard’s and Monahan’s one. I’ve been following this team for as long as I can remember and it’s the first time I have seen them put that much effort in a tribute to a singer and it was perfect. I’m glad the organization was able to recognize the importance of the performer for Québec and gave him a fitting send off, heck, he was even named first star of the game.

Finally, Arber Xhekaj had to leave the game in the second period after receiving a huge hit that sent him flying into a less than perfect landing. Pundits wondered if he had just injured his left shoulder (the one he didn’t have surgery on last season), but today, the Canadiens are saying that he’s evaluated day-to-day for an upper body injury. Hopefully, the injury isn’t all that serious...

The Canadiens are practicing in Brossard this morning before taking off for a five-game road trip. First stop? Boston. You can bet the Bruins will be eager to make the Canadiens pay for last Saturday’s defeat…Expect a classic Saturday night hockey battle.
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More from Karine Hains
» In Hainsight: No Cannon Galore
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» In Hainsight: Not in the Same League
» In Hainsight: Ylonen Seals the Deal
» In Hainsight: Beware of Still Waters