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The Bell Centre was not full for the second time in less than a week
Credit: Is it really that flat? No!

Tanner Pearson took a shot to the hand on Saturday night. He will be out for the next 4 to 6 weeks. The return of David Savard, who ironically also suffered a hand injury following a blocked shot, didn’t add up to +1 in the active column. It simply kept the count at 0 (+Savard, -Pearson).

The situation is becoming problematic for the Canadiens. They may have fired and retired players after two record-breaking injury seasons, but the fact remains that the same story is repeating itself again in 2023-24. And it doesn’t help that the injured players are almost all strikers.

We know it: Carey Price and Chris Wideman won’t be playing all season. Let’s forget about these two, if you don’t mind.

Right now, the Habs have three healthy goalies: Jake Allen, Samuel Montembeault and Cayden Primeau. That’s even a problem, some would say…

On the blue line, only Jordan Harris is currently absent. We have “so much depth” that we can afford to leave Gustav Lindstrom in the stands, play Johnathan Kovacevic only ten minutes a game and let Arber Xhekaj hang around in Laval.

But up front, things aren’t going well: Kirby Dach, Alex Newhook, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Tanner Pearson are all currently absent. And they won’t be back in action for the next few days…

Yesterday, the team’s four trios looked like this:

Caufield – Suzuki – Slafkovsky
Monahan – Evans – Anderson
Gallagher – Dvorak – Ylonen
Pezzetta – Stephens – Armia

Each trio is one rank too high. Let me explain: Caufield, Suzuki and Slafkovsky play like a second trio, Evans shouldn’t be your second center, Anderson has only one goal in 28 games (in an empty net) and he’s the second right winger right now, etc.

But there’s nothing we can do: the Habs were already lacking in raw attacking talent in September. No wonder things aren’t going well when four forwards are sidelined…

Good thing the guys are working hard, even in the third period of a second game in as many nights in two different cities like yesterday! #GallagherNotably

Thoughts from the weekend
The grey weather pushed me into a few reflections and (sporting) observations on Saturday and Sunday. Here are a few:

1. As long as Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton don’t decide whether to trade or waive one of the three goalkeepers, a three-man roster will remain the “best” option in Montreal. But why?

Last week, Martin St-Louis made the decision to send Samuel Montembeault in front of the net for a second straight game because he had not allowed more than three goals in his previous six games. He had taken pole position in front of the net.

What did Montembeault do with this opportunity (against a compact club like the Kings)? He let in four pucks. And he lost his net…

Then, Cayden Primeau was splendid on Saturday night (nearly 50 saves and only two goals allowed)… and Jake Allen, despite suffering his seventh consecutive setback, was sparkling last night (two goals allowed).

As aresult, the three-way dance will continue. I can’t see St-Louis giving a second consecutive start to a goalie who hasn’t won since October this week…

It’s going to take some divine intervention from management for us to finally move on.

2. There were several empty benches last night at the Bell Centre, especially on the Reds… and for the second time this season, the club didn’t declare a sold-out crowd of 21,105. Officially, the NHL this morning spoke of a crowd of 20,864.

Last Monday against the Kraken, around 200 tickets were not sold either.

Many of the club’s fans and partners keep saying that this isn’t a cause for concern: it is. There’s less money coming in in the first place with tickets that aren’t bought per person, fewer people are spending once they’re in the arena… in short, the CH’s difficulties on the ice AND the current economic situation are not sparing (and will not spare) the Club de Hockey Canadien.

It’s worth noting that the Habs sold out virtually all their games in 2022-23.

3. Cole Caufield has just seven goals in 28 games this season, and he hasn’t found the back of the net in his last six games. Some 130 players have done better than him so far this campaign.

Since Caufield doesn’t hit and isn’t very useful defensively, he MUST produce more. He’s paid (dearly) for it. It’s up to him to get more involved and get his “chance” back.

4. If the Habs had scored one less power-play goal (0 in 5) or allowed one less penalty-killgoal, they’d have left the Bell Centre with a point or two last night. The club has to be better than that on special units.

5. The Habs have only two games this week: Wednesday against the Penguins and Saturday against the Islanders. Since both games will be played in Montreal, and the Rocket won’t hit the road until Thursday for Lehigh Valley, it’s safe to assume that the club won’t be calling up a 13th forward in the next few hours.

Except that sooner or later, they might have to… and Joshua Roy Emil Heineman is currently the #1 candidate for such a recall, in my opinion. Especially if you want to play the recalled player.

If not, Philippe Maillet could be a Mattias Norlinder-style option, to warm up the big-money press gallery.

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