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Samuel Montembeault to face Kings Thursday night at Bell Centre
The Habs played a good game yesterday in front of their fans, beating the chamberlain Kraken 4-2 for their first win at the Bell Centre since November 11. The club was due.

This morning, the CH found itself just two points – and a game in hand – away from the playoffs, and if it played for at least .500 in front of its home fans, it would be in the top eight in the East. For the past three years, the CH has collected the fewest points in its amphitheatre across the NHL. Houston, we have a problem.

Yesterday’s game brought an end to the lethargy of several players: Sean Monahan, who hadn’t found the back of the net in 14 games, scored twice…

Tanner Pearson went 19 games without scoring between his last two goals…

And Josh Anderson – in addition to delivering a second caviar pass in as many games – (finally) scored his first goal of the season. We’re now looking forward to his first against a goalkeeper, hehe…

Jake Evans (0 in 24), Brendan Gallagher (0 in 15) and Juraj Slafkovsky (0 in 7) are now the players under the microscope.

But yesterday’s victory would not have been possible without the brilliance of Samuel Montembeault, even if he didn’t receive any of the game’s three stars. The Quebec goaltender – in his first game since signing his new three-year contract – turned aside 31 of 33 shots (including 28 of 29 at even strength) to record his 6th win of the season.

Montembeault is the only goaltender on the team with a positive record at present.

Montembeault: 6-3-1
Allen – 3-5-2
Primeau: 2-3-0

Montembeault is also allowing one less goal per game than his two team-mates so far this season.

Montembeault: 2.66 goals-against average
Allen: 3.74 goals-against average
Primeau: 3.72 goals-against average

Reminder: The NHL – even if our coach is still developing and learning – remains a league of results, not development.

Kent Hughes hopes to see his team play meaningful games in March and April. Jeff Gorton doesn’t dare talk about the playoffs, but he’d like to see his team perform better than last season. And Martin St-Louis constantly repeats that he’s trying to create a culture in the dressing room that will help each individual on the team to progress.

To achieve this, shouldn’t the three-goal rotation be thrown out and the best of the three sent out more than 40% of the time? By December, shouldn’t we have evaluated all this and reached the decision-making stage? Isn’t it time, night after night, to field the line-up that maximizes our chances of winning?

When you see a coach, a GM and a VP hockey all ready to give up Arber Xhekaj to Laval when he’s coming back from a fortnight’s absence – and brings an important toughness aspect to the lineup – under the pretext that Gustav Lindstrom and Jayden Struble have simply passed him in the pecking order, how can they justify a few minutes later rolling their goalies with a three-man rotation that’s akin to bantam C ?

It’s inconsistent. It doesn’t make sense. And it’s been going on for two months!

Eventually, this stubbornness could cost the Canadiens a playoff spot… or at least a few meaningful games in March and April. Isn’t that all important?

Would finishing in no man‘s land, without fighting for a playoff spot, be an acceptable progression? Let’s play to win… or let’s agree to tank, following the numerous injuries, but let’s not juggle competitiveness and equal rotation as we’re currently doing.

We’re in the best league in the world. The goal isn’t to participate… or to make sure everyone gets their fair share of playing time. The goal is to win as much as possible (while remaining ethical, I know)… and it’s Montembeault – not Allen or Primeau – who gives you the best chance of winning right now. He’s also the one the fans who pay the big bucks to get into the Bell Centre want to see in front of their team’s net. He needs to play more.

At least, until proven otherwise!

And if Montembeault does well on Thursday, we’ll just have to give him one of the weekend’ s two 24-hour games , splitting the task with Allen or Primeau.

Have you ever seen an NFL team go with an (almost) perfect two- or three-quarterback rotation, instead of prioritizing the best of the three on the pretext of giving everyone some action? Let’s see…

The Habs had a tough time in Los Angeles ten days ago, even though Renaud Lavoie may still think otherwise: let’s not send Jake Allen back into the fray against the Kings… and let’s not send Cayden Primeau either, who often gets the second game in as many nights and has faced the Devils, Red Wings, Golden Knights, Panthers… and Sharks since the start of the season. Let’s help him (and ourselves) win a little!

It’s worth noting that Jake Allen has also faced lesser opponents than Montembeault since the start of the campaign. It’s time to really put Monty to the test and maximize our chances – already not very good – of beating the Kings on Thursday night in Quebec City.

We’ve just signed him for this kind of challenge.

Oh yes… let’s not wait until the last minute to announce that Montembeault will have the task of stopping the shots of Dubois, Danault and company on Thursday. Let’s do it right now, 48 hours in advance, as we did a few days ago with Primeau…

At worst, let’s send Jake Allen to the waivers, then to Laval (even if I’m repeating myself). It’s time to give Sam the #1 title… before the holiday trade freeze!


Arber Xhekaj was traded to the Rocket yesterday afternoon, after training with his CH teammates for the first time in just over two weeks.

I’m willing to believe that Struble and Lindstrom are doing better than him right now, but I still can’t believe that they could have made this decision, but still not have identified a real (deserving) starting goalie to give more games to.

What’s more, Martin St-Louis has flouted the principle that an injured player is generally entitled to regain his position when he returns to action.

Instead, St-Louis turned Xhekaj into a hesitant, less effective and (mentally) fragile player. And by sending him to face a physical, combative rival like the Baby Sens, CH management is doing nothing to protect its Sheriff. I’m not convinced he’ll have fun and look good tomorrow at Place Bell…

Yes, Xhekaj has his faults…

Yes, in his own way, he was a bit of a sophomore jinx during the team’s first 20 games…

But he had improved since last year. Is it really smart to send him to Laval? Do Montreal still have plans for him?

Ironically, he’s yet another fan favorite taken away from fans who pay a fortune to get into the Bell Centre.

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