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In Hainsight: A Win Which Highlights Some Issues

February 28, 2024, 1:25 PM ET [277 Comments]
Karine Hains
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Taking on a team that had lost its last 12 games, the Canadiens didn’t dominate even though they won. The Coyotes, a side that struggles to put 30 pucks on net per game, managed to get 38 shots on Samuel Montembeault. Had it not been for his performance, the Canadiens would have lost that game. At one stage in the second frame, the Coyotes looked like a pack of vultures circling the Canadiens’ dead body. On numerous occasions, the Habs were stuck in their zone because of Arizona’s dominance.

At least, Martin St.Louis who had spent the last two weeks saying his team deserved better was honest in his assessment admitting Montreal didn’t deserve to win. The bench boss looked exasperated when Juraj Slafkosky took a second penalty for high-sticking in the game, and he made the youngster skip a turn to make sure he got the message. The coach’s reaction was highly similar when Josh Anderson was sent to the box for tripping. The big forward is not doing much of anything good these days, he at least shouldn’t be hindering his team’s task. St.Louis shook his head and stared intently at the floor not to show his face to the camera.

There were some positive elements to the game however, the blue liners kept contributing offensively with Jordan Harris leading the charge and scoring a beauty of a goal top shelf on Connor Ingram. Arber Xhekaj joined the rush a few times and put himself in a good position near Ingram’s net but elected to pass back instead of shooting, but at least he recognized the opportunity to join the rush. Hughes will have to be careful when he decides to trade a defenseman to make room for the younger prospects and he’ll likely take the 23 games left in the calendar to evaluate them all.

Samuel Monteambeault, who just shouldn’t have been tested that much against a weak Arizona side, multiplied the saves, and showed just how sharp he was when he stuck a pad out to stop a puck that had been deflected just in front of him. Compared to the Canadiens’ other netminder’s performance, it’s easy to see why Montembeault has become the number one, even though St-Louis won’t say it.

Joel Armia, who started the season down in Laval, had a solid outing, scoring the first goal of a game as he found himself all alone on a breakaway and adding an assist on Nick Suzuki’s empty net goal. If his cap hit wasn’t that high, perhaps Habs fans could dream about him being traded at the deadline, but I highly doubt that could happen… Armia’s good games are few and far between. Furthermore, Kent Hughes has got to be careful about his sole salary retention spot left, I believe it would be better used by sending Jake Allen elsewhere. Cayden Primeau just can’t spend another season riding the pine and only starting a few games.

After this underserved win, the Canadiens leapfrogged the Senators to take possession of 26th place in the standings. This should only be temporary though as the Senators have two games in hand and are only one point behind Montreal. This also means the Habs put some distance between themselves and the Coyotes in the standings, they’re three points ahead of Arizona now.

Tomorrow, the Canadiens will be taking on the Panthers who are currently 2nd in the league, a single point behind the Canucks with two games in hand. If the Habs play the same type of game they did last night, the Panthers will eviscerate them.

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