In Hainsight: No Cannon Galore
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All too often, the Canadiens struggled in Columbus and heard the Blue Jackets’ cannon enough to develop a PTSD. Columbus had won six of the last 10 games between the two teams, but the Canadiens had won the only duel so far this season. Last night, Martin St-Louis’ men had their working boots on and managed to come back from behind twice before getting the lead and protecting it until the end. Of course, they only got the lead with three minutes to go to the game, but it was only their fourth regulation win of the season. It matters for a young team to learn how to close a game and the Habs did just take with Armia’s game winning goal and an empty netter from Gustav Lindstrom. Newhook and Caufield had both scored their 7th goal of the season in the second frame.
Last night, three Oilers scouts were at the Nationwide Arena to watch the two teams battle and while there has been plenty of rumors about a possible deal involving a goaltender better Edmonton and Montreal, it was the second time that three Oilers scouts were taking in a game in Columbus. Were they watching Samuel Montembeault last night or Elvis Merzlikins? Your guess is as good as mine. If they were watching the Habs’ goaltender, they picked a good game to attend. Montembeault finished the night with a .929 save percentage even though he gave two goals on six shots in the second frame. Columbus’ first tally came off the stick of Patrik Lane who broke away and came in all alone in front of Montembeault, he very nearly stopped it but the puck trickled in.
Many had hoped a game against his former team was just what Josh Anderson needed to finally score his first goal of the season, but it wasn’t so. Anderson had two shots on goal, but they weren’t very threatening. St-Louis might want to consider taking the big forward off his first power play unit since the goals just aren’t coming. Some are already claiming he should spend a few games on the press gallery, but I think being taken off the power play could be a nice wake-up call.
With his seventh goal of the season, Cole Caufield became the fifth player in team history to reach the 60-goal plateau before playing 150 games. Howie Morenz had done it in 74 games, Maurice Richard in 83, Jean Beliveau in 132 and Joe Benoit in 135. Still, right now, the Canadiens’ sniper is on pace for 26 goals on the season and should he not pick up the pace, it will be a disappointing output for him. Meanwhile, Alex Newhook is also on pace for 26 goals, and it would be an impressive result for him as his career high was the 14 goals he scored last season.
Juraj Slafkovsky got a secondary assist on Caufield’s goal and played another strong game, he might only have seven points on the season, but he’s looking much more confident and solid on his skates. He’s also starting to use his big frame to battle along the boards and he’s not shy of going to the net to get a scoring chance. He probably had the best opportunity to score in the first period last night, but Merzlikins denied him.
Kaiden Guhle played yet another impressive game, spending nearly 25 minutes on the ice and joining in on the attack at times. He got an assist for his trouble and his two missed shots landed on the goal posts. He added two more which found their way to the net. What’s most impressive isn’t his offensive output though, it’s how confident and calm he looks on the ice. It’s hard to believe he’s only playing his second season in the league. Speaking of impressive defensemen, Jayden Struble has played very well since being recalled, he’s averaged 12 minutes 43 seconds of ice-time in the four games he’s played so far and hasn’t looked out of place at all.
This 4-2 win was the third of the Canadiens’ five game road trip and while some will be quick to say they came against struggling teams, the Habs have often struggled raising their games against teams which were behind them in the standings.
Montreal will be back in action tonight when they host the Florida Panthers and Cayden Primeau will be in net. The Cats have won the last four games against the Canadiens and have also won eight of the last 10 match-ups.