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In Hainsight: What the Canadiens Should Aspire to Be

March 14, 2023, 4:06 PM ET [213 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Follow me @KarineHains for all updates about the Montreal Canadiens and women's hockey

The Avalanche struck early and often last night. After 16 minutes of play, Jared Bednar’s men were up 4-0 and it looked like the Canadiens had no answer for the sheer power of the western conference formation. Josh Anderson did manage to score a goal (his 20th of the season) to cut down the lead to 3 before the end of the period but still, when the buzzer rang, the Avalanche had more goals than the Canadiens had shots and it wasn’t a misleading stat.

In the middle frame, the Avs carried on pilling it on, scoring another 2 goals before Gurianov for a second one for the home side making it 6-2 after 40 minutes. For a couple of minutes in the final period, it looked like the Canadiens might just manage to dig themselves out of a the massive hole in which they found themselves, but a Colorado power play market cut short to any thoughts of a comeback.

There you have it, an 8-4 pounding which makes it seven losses in a row for Montreal. To be fair, the result is hardly surprising since the Canadiens are severely depleted by injuries and that the Avalanche is fighting for a playoffs spot and needs every points it can get. We’ve said it time and time again this season, the results don’t really matter, it’s not about winning, it’s about developing. What we saw last night on the ice was a brilliant display of savvy passing plays and mobile and offensively gifted defense. As weird as it sounds to say, the fans in attendance enjoyed the show. There was no booing, they saw what they had paid to see, entertaining hockey.

Granted, the Avs provided most of the entertainment, but still watching the likes of Cale Makar, Bowen Byram and local favorite Samuel Girard skate effortlessly and mesmerize the Habs, I couldn’t help but think that one day, the Canadiens’ blue like would hopefully look a little bit like that. Gone are the Bergevin days which centered on big punishing defenseman that were painful to play against. Kent Hughes’ blue line will have mobility and offensive instincts if things go according to plan. Kaiden Guhle sure can move, launch an attack or join in as needed, Justin Barron has good skating as well and we’ve yet to see the best of him and if Lane Hutson can be polished properly, he should be a proper little gem.

For me, the best moment of the game was the tribute video the Canadiens played to welcome back Arturri Lehkonen. The Finn was visibly moved by the ovation he received as the fans relived the magical 2021 Cup run and his game-winning goal against Vegas to send the Habs to the final. Like in a perfectly written script, Lehkonen scored on the face-off which followed and the Bell Centre cheered again. In the end, the fan favorite finished the game with 2 goals and an assist in just under 10 minutes of ice time thanks to a finger injury that cut his homecoming short. Still, it was enough for the press to give him the first star of the game, I’m telling you, it was a perfectly written script.

As for the Canadiens, Josh Anderson stood out all game, not only did he score but he was also everywhere on the ice and stepping up for the team. The big forward is probably playing his best hockey in a Hab uniform and if he carries on this way, GMs could come knocking on Kent Hughes’ door this summer to try and pry the power forward away. Should Hughes elect to trade him, Habs’ fans should expect a nice little bounty to come back their way.

Rem Pitlick had to leave the game after he landed face first in the boards and was even sent to the hospital for a check-up, but he must have gotten the all clear since he did travel to Pittsburgh with the team for tonight’s game. In net, Jake Allen gave way to Samuel Montembeault after just 23 minutes of play in which he conceded 6 goals on 15 shots. Clearly, it wasn’t his best outing but the way the team played in front of him, it’s hard to blame the veteran netminder. Once Montembault came in, the Habs seemed to realize that they had to try harder and they finally got in gear (up to a certain extend).

Tonight, the Canadiens will play the second game of this back-to-back and Montembeault is slotted to get the start. Fortunately for the Habs, the young netminder is at his best when he sees a lot of action so a second game in an many nights shouldn’t be a problem for him.

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