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Whether it was his fault or not, Jake Allen was unable to win again.

Last night, the Canadiens took on the Buffalo Sabres. It wasn’t a great game for Canadiens fans, who saw their favourites lose 6-1 at home.

The famous “we’re playing all lopsided at home after coming back from a long trip” was the order of the day.

Martin St-Louis said it all: the Habs played the right way in the first period… and that was that. As for the rest, let’s just say that the game was pretty painful to watch.

After one period, Jake Allen, the habs goaltender, had kept his club in the game by not giving up a goal to the Sabres, a club that isn’t playing for .500 this season.

But then? It got out of hand.

The Habs’ goalie allowed five goals in the game – the Sabres’ fifth, the one that gave Buffalo wings, was scored in an empty net – and when you think about it, he’s not the one most to blame for his team’s defeat.

He allowed goals when he wasn’t always left in a good position. Thank you, Mike Matheson…

But the fact remains that, in the end, the stopper lost again. He doesn’t have to shoulder the entire burden of his team’s defeat, but he didn’t exactly save the day either.

He was ordinary.

The problem is, no matter how much of the blame for last night’s loss is placed on him, the goalie still found a way to make his team lose.

After maintaining a 3-0-1 record in October, he now has a 1-8-1 record in his last 10 games, the games of November, December and January 2024.

We’re talking about three points out of a possible 20.

The ménage à trois doesn’t bring out the best in him, and right now, clubs potentially interested in getting their hands on his services should know this: he’s incapable of winning.

I know he’s not playing with the best of clubs, but still: he can’t win. In fact, the only thing he earns is $3.85M per season for another 18 months.

Kent Hughes doesn’t want to lower his price on Jake Allen… but at some point, the Maritime goaltender will have to start playing up to that price.

But hey. That’s not the only story of the game, since Jake Allen isn’t the only Habs player who doesn’t exactly deserve good words after yesterday’s game.

What do I remember about the game?

1. When Joel Armia wants to play well, he can play well. Of course, the problem, as everyone here knows, is that he doesn’t often want to play up to his great talent.

Yesterday, he scored twice (in a 6-1 defeat, I know), but one of his goals was disallowed. He did his part yesterday.

2. Let me take you back to last October. Do you remember what word was in vogue when it came to talking about the Habs’ problems? Does the word “indiscipline” ring a bell? That’s what I thought.

Yesterday, the Habs took six different penalties. The Sabres opened the scoring with David Savard – an important piece of the PK – in the dungeon, and then added another with Mitchell Stephens in the penalty box.

Note that the empty-net goal wasn’t scored on the power play (obviously), but David Savard – again – and Mike Matheson were both in the dungeon.

The indiscipline hurt the Habs, who had been limiting the damage when short-handed for several games.

3. Without Christian Dvorak (but with Josh Anderson), the Habs played with seven defensemen and 11 forwards. Is this a formula that’s here to stay?

Not necessarily, no.

Martin St-Louis said after the game that he would re-evaluate the situation. He says that the game speaks to you and that you have to listen to what’s best for the team. That includes evaluating the format.

It’s worth noting that recalling a player from Laval wouldn’t be complicated: just put Dvorak on the injured list.

But right now, the format is putting pressure on some players in particular. In particular, Nick Suzuki played more than 23 minutes and took up more space on the power play.

Cole Caufield and Juraj Slafkovsky also played more or less 20 minutes. Sean Monahan, a guy who has to do double duty at center without Dvo? 19 minutes.

4. Defensively, it’s clear that the seven-defender format isn’t easy on playing time.

In the past, we’ve seen right-handers (more if you count the fact that Jordan Harris played on Jayden Struble’s right) get a bit more playing time. But yesterday? One guy was penalized.

When you look at the playing time, you can see that Johnathan Kovacevic, who had a big role on the top-4 earlier in the season, is the seventh defenseman. He was left out in the last few weeks and now he’s playing less.

I wonder what’s in store for him in the short term (Gustav Lindstrom is waiting his turn) and between now and the end of the season, with congestion looming…


5. Brendan Gallagher hasn’t scored since November 11. That’s 24 games in a row that have gone by without the Flannel’s little warrior finding the back of the net.

Expectations may be low, but it’s still too little. At least he’s not injured…

6. Yesterday morning, I was talking about how hard it was to find last-minute tickets to the game without having to sell a kidney in the process. Let’s just say that those who paid such a high price must be kicking themselves.

In fact, no one at the Bell Centre got their money’s worth yesterday. And that’s even if someone was going to the Temple on the arm.

7. Before the game, Juraj Slafkovsky told Luc Gélinas during warm-up that he was trying to work hard. He said it using words some people don’t want to repeat.

But in the end, the Habs still lost miserably.

8. There’s a lot of talk about Jeff Skinner, who again found a way to get the Canadiens’ number last night, but seeing Devon Levi win at the Bell Centre is also a great story.

The Quebec goaltender, who spent more time on the ice at practice yesterday morning because he was at the Bell Centre, was accompanied by his loved ones after the game. And most importantly: he played really well.

9. The Habs have a 9-7-3 record on the road. That’s good, considering expectations.

But at home, we’re talking about a 7-10-2 record. In their last 11 games at the Bell Centre, the Habs are 2-7-2… and have given up 43 goals to their opponents. Ouch.

The Canadiens will train at 11:30 a.m. at Complexe CN in Brossard. The goal? Prepare for tomorrow night’s visit of the Rangers at the Bell Centre.

Don’t expect a recall from the Rocket, as the club is in Utica to face the Comets tonight. Yesterday, Anthony Marcotte mentioned that everyone (except Riley Kidney, who is ill) made the trip.

If there’s a recall, it’ll be tomorrow, after the Rocket game and before the Habs. But in reality, it wouldn’t be surprising if the 11-7 format remained in place tomorrow, and was re-evaluated afterwards.

We’ll keep an eye on training, though.

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