Skip to content
Joshua Roy falls ill as Montreal recall looms
Last night, the Canadiens were in New Jersey to take on the Devils. It was the first game of a three-game road trip, which continues tonight in Ottawa and Saturday in Boston.

Circumstances meant that many of the guys were able to have a meaningful dinner on Tuesday night, the day the boys arrived in the U.S. and the day before the game, which was ultimately won by the Habs.

More on that later.

First, Jake Evans and Tanner Pearson broke bread with Tyler Toffoli. The two former teammates (from the Montreal days for Evans and the Los Angeles and Vancouver days for Pearson) ate together.

As for Cole Caufield, he went to lunch with Jack Hughes. Even though he’s injured and hasn’t played, he still chatted with his friend. Juraj Slafkovsky also had lunch with a friend: Simon Nemec.

And finally, Joshua Roy went out to eat with several Quebecers from the club. Samuel Montembeault, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and David Savard took the kid out to eat in the Big Apple.

Mike Matheson was the only Quebecer not there.

As Guillaume Lefrançois (La Presse) reports in his piece on the subject, Savard told Roy that he wouldn’t have to take his wallet out of the trip. He took care of the young man and integrated him into the team.

I’m not surprised.

After all, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard told La Poche Bleue last year that the defenseman had done the same for him, and that the Quebecers sometimes had dinner together on the road.

It certainly helps Roy’s confidence.

While the Quebecers made sure to integrate Roy into the team off the ice, it’s also worth mentioning that the rookie got some help on the ice too. Playing with Joel Armia and (especially) Sean Monahan helps.

Yesterday, Monahan was excellent throughout the game, as was his trio. This allowed Roy to find the back of the net on a high-quality play by Simon Nemec Monahan.

In reality, Roy had an excellent game in New Jersey. From the first, it was clear that he was already more at ease than in the duels against the Oilers and the Avalanche. He came out of his shell.

But at the same time, that’s normal. He was up against two big clubs that rely on Connor McDavid and Nathan MacKinnon. He had just arrived in the NHL. He was playing at home and must have been distracted by everyone wanting to see him take his first steps in town.

Now, on the road, all he had to think about was his game. He was facing an inferior team, one that was also missing Jack Hughes. All he had to think about was hockey… and the veterans made sure, on and off the ice, that he was in good shape.

That, too, is the importance of veterans. If Savard and Monahan (likely in the Ontarian’s case) leave between now and March 8, it’s clear that the club will miss what they bring to the Habs.

But hey. That’s not all that should be remembered about this win for the Habs, who still have five points in three games since their ham games against the Flyers and Sharks.

What do I remember about this game?

1. If we start with the negative, the guys need to learn to keep their sticks on the ice. Kaiden Guhle, Mike Matheson and Nick Suzuki, three important players, took the only penalties of the game for the Habs… and they were for high sticking.

At the end of the second, Suzuki was given a four-minute penalty. Without the captain on the ice, the Devils scored twice to bring both teams back to square one.

Before the penalty, the Canadiens led 2-0.

It’s rare for Suzuki to sink his club like that, but yesterday his punishment didn’t help the group. Fortunately for him, the Habs ended up winning 3-2, but still: indiscipline is something to work on.

2. Joel Armia, about midway through the third period, led the Habs’ forwards in playing time. The special units changed the game (the Habs only had one power play), but still: it shows he has the coach’s confidence.

He finished the game at 18:16, behind Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki. The guys on the first line played for 18:57 and 20:23. Mike Matheson (27:13) and Kaiden Guhle (23:48) led the club, which means that the three punished guys led the club for playing time.

3. In fact, if you want to play nice, you’ll tell me that it was Samuel Montembeault (60:00) who led the Habs for playing time.

He was excellent again yesterday. He stopped 28 of 30 shots, with the exception of the two goals he scored while Nick Suzuki was in the dungeon. We know the goalie needs to improve his PK game, but yesterday he gave his team the win.

In his last two games, Samuel Montembeault gave away just two goals. Normally, he’s given away at least three in every game since his second game in December.

So he’s been improving over the last two games, if you take it that way.

He has a 3-1-1 record in January, with an average of 2.58 and an efficiency rate of .930. He reached the 10-win mark for the second time in his career, after 16 last year.

He may be hurting the lottery, but…

5. Five goals were scored during yesterday’s match. Juraj Slafkovsky, Joshua Roy, Luke Hughes, Alexander Holtz and Cole Caufield found the back of the net during the match.

The guys are respectively 19, 20, 20, 21 and 23 years old. That’s not exactly old.

6. For the Habs, the victory was the fruit of a fine collective effort from a group that was fun to watch. Patrick Joshua Roy’s goal was a fine example from Sean Monahan… but let’s not forget Cole Caufield’s game.

On Slaf’s goal, he made a superb baseball-type pass. And on his goal, he was in traffic to take advantage of a return.

The effort was clearly there for Caufield, who is quietly redeeming his difficult start to the season. He has scored in his last three games and six times since the holidays, in 11 games. We might even say in 10 games, since he didn’t find the back of the net in Carolina.

His shot success rate has been on the rise recently. His GM must be happy… and his captain.

7. In an ideal world, the English-Canadian media would know what they’re talking about when it comes to the Habs. It started on Monday, when the Sportsnet gang suggested sending Juraj Slafkovsky on the fourth line.

And yesterday, at the same station, we “learned” that the Habs had ended a four-game road losing streak with their win. Yet the Habs won in Dallas on January 2, lost in Philly on January 10 and won in New Jersey yesterday.

Obviously, this is a human error.

That said, when there are several of this kind, we can take it as a sign that these networks don’t give a damn about the Habs or Quebec in general. #KeepYourEnglish

I say “those networks” because even TSN seemed surprised to learn that the best opposing players are booed. Whether you think it’s thick or not, booing a player just because he’s good, everyone knows that’s the way things are in Montreal.

And when I say everyone, I mean everyone who follows hockey… in Quebec.

8. Slaf is definitely a player who is growing in confidence. You can see it on the ice, and yesterday it was even more obvious: he can compete with the best opposing players.

In his first 82 NHL games (yesterday was his 83rd), he may have scored slightly fewer points than Alexis Lafrenière’s 29 or Jack Hughes’ 34 over the same period (Slaf had 26), but his last few weeks have been encouraging.

9. Yesterday, Alexander Holtz scored and was subsequently benched. It’s not the first time Lindy Ruff has benched his player this season… and it’s not the first time Devils fans have blamed the coach for it.

It’s the media’s job to ask why Holtz was benched. Ruff’s response of “I heard you didn’t see the game” is not a strong one.

There’s frustration in New Jersey, clearly.

We’re not there yet, but if Kent Hughes is looking for a young project a la Kirby Dach or Alex Newhook this summer, Holtz is a seventh overall pick in the 2020 auction….


After the Devils game, the Habs headed to Ottawa for tonight’s showdown with the Senators. This will be the second game of a three-game road trip.

The Bruins are also on the menu on Saturday in this penultimate week of activities before the All-Star Game break.


Cayden Primeau did not make the trip to New Jersey. That’s a huge clue that he’s gone to Ottawa for the night, in order to be in shape for tonight’s game.

Don’t necessarily expect to see Josh Anderson or Tanner Pearson playing tonight, which means we can expect the same offensive line-up for the Habs.

Defensively, will Johnathan Kovacevic take the place of Justin Barron? Who knows.

Note that the Habs will not be holding an early morning training session. A few members of the organization will speak to the media around noon, but otherwise, rest will be the order of the day.

More Content