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This week, the Canadian proved to be far from the « mot en P »

This season, the Canadiens are playing better hockey than expected. The guys have been picking up points here and there in surprising fashion against good teams, and they’ve sometimes held off good clubs without winning.

It was a sign of progress.

But since Wednesday night, the Habs have brought everyone back down to earth. After beating the Rangers last Saturday, the Habs put in two horrendous performances on Wednesday and last night.

And let’s not forget that without Samuel Montembeault, the Habs were winless against New York on Saturday.

In fact, since the holidays, the Habs are 2-5-1. And in both wins, it took Samuel Montembeault to hold down the fort in front of the net.

In the case of the overtime loss, it took Cayden Primeau and his big performance against the Flyers.

In short, since the return from the holidays, three of the five points obtained (in eight games) are the direct result of goaltending. Carey Price surely makes it clear that goalies need help sometimes.

With the game getting tougher as the season progresses, the Habs are slowly coming back down to earth. This was obviously to be expected.

But could anyone have predicted that the Habs would play so poorly this week?

Against both the Flyers on Wednesday and the Sharks yesterday, you have to wonder if these were the club’s worst games since Martin St-Louis took over the bench.

Fans even booed the Habs last night – and rightly so.

Last night, the Habs may have played on the road the night before, but the fact remains that they didn’t look like an NHL team.

Neither did the Sharks, for that matter… and they were in control of the game. That’s saying a lot, isn’t it?

In a 3-2 loss, where the Habs got up late in the game only to score a goal when Samuel Montembeault had retired to the bench in favor of a sixth skater, the effort was pathetic. The guys clearly didn’t want to be there.

And the club could hardly have found a worse way to play its 40th and 41st games of the season. Because yes, it’s officially mid-season for the Habs.


The Habs currently have 40 points in 41 games. Will the club finish with 80 points in 82 games? After all, we know that after the holidays, it’s harder to keep up the same level of play.

Not to mention the fact that the club is expected to sell at the deadline…

But whatever. All that to say that yesterday’s game was very difficult to watch, once again. It’s one thing to rebuild, but quite another to put in such a performance.

What can I take away from this match?

1. Yes, Jayden Struble blundered on his team’s first goal. It was his first big mistake since Kent Hughes recalled him to the NHL from the Laval Rocket.

We can forgive him… especially when he takes the trouble to redeem himself through his physical play afterwards.

But at the same time, the last few games have been a little tougher for him. It’s not the end of the world and it’s not abnormal, given that the game after the holidays is different from the start of the season…

It’s going to get harder and harder.

But with Johnathan Kovacevic eating his heart out these days, with Connor McDavid in the Temple tomorrow night, and with Martin St-Louis loving it when his young players see the game from above, one has to wonder if it isn’t time to give the American a game off.

However, I don’t think the Habs are at the stage of wanting to send him back down in favor of an Arber Xhekaj, but let’s remember that the Sheriff will undoubtedly have another audition this year.

2. It was also the return of Mike Hoffman. In just over 10 minutes of play, he took three shots… and let’s just say his return to town wasn’t a big storyline of the Sharks coming to town.

Next story.

3. I don’t know what’s going on with Cole Caufield, but the accuracy of his shots isn’t exactly optimal. Nick Suzuki’s friend has had trouble taking shots that match his enormous talent.

In particular, it hurt the club late in the game, when the Habs spent several minutes down to six skaters. It was the most exciting moment of the game, and a goal from #22 would have sent the Bell Centre into a frenzy.

4. It’s important to remember that the Sharks had lost their last 12 games before showing up in Montreal… but the club hadn’t lost since 2015 (seven games) at the Bell Centre.

A sequence had to end… and for Habs fans, it didn’t. Except, of course, for those who are increasingly dreaming of Macklin Celebrini this summer.

5. On Wednesday night, the Flyers took 20 more shots on net (39-19) than the Habs. Yesterday, it was even (35 shots from both sides), but thanks to the third period, when the Habs took 15 shots.

The Sharks’ 17 second-period shots speak volumes. If only the forwards had started the game earlier…

6. Those who are the type to watch the stands during the game will have noticed that it wasn’t exactly full in the square. At some point in the first half, the tickets in the reds weren’t all used up.

But it didn’t matter: a crowd of 21,105 was still announced.

7. To work on: defensive execution. This was a recurring theme for Martin St-Louis when it came time to evaluate his team following the game against the Sharks.

He’s right, of course.

8. The Habs left Samuel Montembeault at home this week to save him the trip. They wanted him in shape to beat the Sharks, and while he wasn’t bad, he didn’t succeed. He can’t be a customer satisfied with the effort put in front of him.

Good thing it wasn’t Jake Allen who lost to San Jose, in any case…


After playing twice in two nights, the Canadiens will have a day off today. No training is on the menu for the guys.

The goal will be to rest up for tomorrow night’s visit of the Oilers… but also for next week, which will be intense.

The next two games (Edmonton and Colorado) will be at home against big teams. The club will then hit the road for a three-game Eastern trip.

So between now and January 20, the Canadiens will face four good hockey clubs and the Senators – in the second game of a back-to-back. It won’t be easy.

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