Cheers to both teams on a great game, and congratulations to Montreal on the OT win. https://t.co/V8atBuAD05
– Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) January 3, 2024
If I wanted to be the funniest person on earth, I’d say the Habs are still undefeated this year. But since I don’t aspire to be the funniest person in the universe, I won’t say it.
We’ll come back to this, but the Habs finally won their first game since Christmas.
Why do I say we’ll come back to it? Because yesterday, hockey fans in Montreal didn’t just have the Habs to watch if they wanted to see good quality pro hockey.
It was also the debut of Montreal’s PWHL club.
In fact, Montreal was in Ottawa, and the game really got people talking. I have a feeling there was more talk about the women’s club than the men’s on Twitter. Normally, that’s not the case.
With a record crowd in Ottawa for a women’s pro hockey game (8,318 fans), it felt like the buzz was there. [Insert joke about the Arizona Coyotes and their many fans here].
Was it because of the novelty effect? Of course, that’s part of the answer, yes. But the good news is that the fans who were there were treated to quite a show, and will surely want to return to see more games.
The winning goal!
The OT winner! pic.twitter.com/O8rpYPor5h
– PWHL Montréal (@PWHL_Montreal) January 3, 2024
Of necessity, this diluted interest in the Habs’ game. But I guess seeing Martin St-Louis’ men play a good game probably helped rally fans in front of their TVs.
And that’s even if it got off to a bad start, courtesy of a Mike Matheson who’s had his ups and (mostly?) downs in recent weeks.
That’s the great thing about the Habs of 2023-2024: nothing’s over. The guys didn’t let the fact that the Stars took the lead 11 seconds into the game get them down.
They fought and it made for a great hockey game. Here’s what I remember about the game:
1. It seems to be a recurring theme, but Juraj Slafkovsky really seems to be gaining confidence on the first line. He picked up an assist yesterday – and deserves a sticker in his Canada book for his play on Jordan Harris’ goal – and he was still playing with confidence.
– HockeyStatCards (@hockeystatcards) January 3, 2024
But more than that. He’s got nine points in his last seven games (that’s seven road games), collecting at least one point in six of them. And before that, he had seven points in seven games to start December.
2. My colleague Raphael Simard put in a good word last night, but Josh Anderson didn’t finish the game. He took several hits, including one that ended his game.
In a game where the Habs were playing with 11 forwards, let’s just say it complicated the coach‘s task.
Josh Anderson gets his skate caught awkwardly, needs a lot of help getting to the locker room after pic.twitter.com/B9voGqRY9f
– Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 3, 2024
Don’t expect to hear anything from Anderson today, as the Habs are off. That said, when you see the way he’s been injured, you have to expect the worst.
He was tested late in the game, giving away two goals as the Habs tried to limit the damage. It wasn’t easy for anyone, but Montembeault and his teammates held their own… and gained some experience in the process.
Martin St-Louis: “It’s a learning experience for everyone. For me too” https://t.co/OSkmvNWdRD
– TVA Sports (@TVASports) January 3, 2024
Even David Savard (17:50) played less than Struble. I understand that with Jordan Harris playing on the right, that’s four guys instead of three… but still: it says a lot about confidence in Struble.
The Habs will be off today after an exhausting trip, which is well deserved. Martin St-Louis’ men will be back in action tomorrow, when the Sabres are in town. So we’ll have to wait and see who will inevitably be recalled from Laval.
With yesterday’s win, the Habs find themselves five points out of the playoffs and the Capitals, who are in the chair of the last club entitled to a ticket to the spring tournament. Four clubs are between the Habs and the Caps, though.