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The Canadiens and the art of shooting themselves in the foot
Last night, the Canadiens took on the Pittsburgh Penguins. For those who missed it, they lost the game in a shootout.

As we’ve seen, the Penguins of 2023 don’t exactly have the luster of yesteryear. The Pennsylvania outfit is no longer a National League powerhouse, but it still has a few tricks up its sleeve.

The first trick? Sidney Crosby.

Sid The Kid, who’s been in the league since 2005, is still a dominant player. He’s slowed down a bit… but really not that much. Why is that? Because a smart player is still a good player.

Just yesterday, he not only scored twice and picked up an assist on his team’s second goal, but also found the back of the net in a shootout against Samuel Montembeault, who didn’t have a bad game.

And he made Kaiden Guhle look like a schoolboy on the Penguins’ first goal.

In reality, the Canadiens sometimes played well, but sometimes made mistakes like Guhle’s during the game. The Penguins still won, even though they trailed twice in the game by two goals. #2to0 #3to1

And that’s even though the Penguins played the day before in another city. Where did they get their legs?

This is the seventh time this season – in seven games – that the Habs have lost a game while their opponent is in the second game of a back-to-back. Obviously, this is a problem.

To me, it fits in with a phrase Martin St-Louis repeated often to the media after yesterday’s game.

We shot ourselves in the foot. – Martin St-Louis

St-Louis looked at the captain on the other side, a guy he’s faced many times in his career, and he knows that he doesn’t shoot himself in the foot. The captain, who took advantage of the Penguins’ fathers’ trip to play a big one, wasn’t exactly a turnaround machine yesterday.

And that made the difference for his team.

What he means by that is that the Habs had a tougher second half in particular. This often happens with the Habs… who are a young team still learning. The guys took unnecessary risks in the second.

St-Louis says he was disappointed, but not surprised by the result. He also considers that the club had its chances.

Obviously, it would help if the Habs stopped giving away shorthanded goals. Just yesterday, in the second, Jake Guentzel and Crosby found the back of the net with a man on.

But at least Sean Monahan scored on the power play.

But turnovers aren’t the only thing to remember about this game, which wasn’t completely ugly. In the beginning and in the end, there was some good hockey being played by the Habs.

So what do I remember?

1. In overtime, the Habs may have had a power play, but they still dominated. In five minutes, they took nine shots on goal. As for the Penguins? Just one.

But no one was able to capitalize. And in the end, playing guys of the calibre of Joel Armia, Jake Evans and David Savard didn’t pay off after the long minutes spent by the first unit.

2. 12 rounds in a shootout? That’s a franchise record for the Habs. Every forward (except Mitchell Stephens) and Mike Matheson had a chance to take a shot. Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and Sean Monahan scored.

We don’t want to sound too weepy, but… Joel Armia in the fifth round? Christian Dvorak in the sixth round? Really?

That said, since all the forwards have gone through except Mitchell, it allows us to establish a certain hierarchy. Josh Anderson, Brendan Gallagher and Jake Evans, who were the last shooters, know where they stand.

Has St-Louis forgotten that it’s its defensemen who are the most successful offensively this year?

3. Josh Anderson still hasn’t scored a goal since he found the back of the (empty) net ten days ago. And yesterday, the hockey gods were clearly out to get him. His first goal didn’t open the floodgates, then.

But even so, he played ten minutes more than Jesse Ylönen (7:26) last night.

4. Cole Caufield didn’t score yesterday. He didn’t play a bad game (although it wasn’t perfect), but he still hasn’t found the back of the net since the November 29 game.

Since October 27, he has just three goals.

5. I said it earlier, but defensemen are all the rage this year. David Savard and Jayden Struble scored last night for the Canadiens, which is not a feat that will happen every night.

23 goals for Habs defensemen this year? Yes sir. NHL record with the Avalanche? Yes, sir.


The Canadiens will be back on the ice this morning at 11:30. A training session is scheduled in Brossard, at Complexe CN. This will be the first step in preparing for the visit of the Islanders on Saturday night.

We’ll be watching to see if Emil Heineman, freshly recalled, stands out during practice.

Saturday’s game will be the Canadiens’ last home game of 2023. After that, the Habs will hit the road for a seven-game road trip, including six games in 2023 and one in Dallas on January 2.

It won’t be easy.


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