(More) Samuel Montembeault saves: pic.twitter.com/o4gcHCWfiD
– Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) January 18, 2024
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.
“Savard picked up the bill and said he was paying for it, that I wasn’t going to pay for anything on the trip.
A good dinner and a first goal: Joshua Roy had quite a baptism of the road in the NHL. Thanks in large part to the veterans around himhttps://t.co/gqxPlZzdng
– Guillaume Lefrançois (@glefrancoisLP) January 18, 2024
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.
Joshua Roy has his first NHL goal! pic.twitter.com/xlCn9JMvK8
– Spittin’ Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) January 18, 2024
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Amazing what you can read. Slafkovsky, Roy and Caufield, three forwards 23 years old or younger, score for the Habs and we’re hearing about the mess this represents for the 2024 pick and the team’s future.
Time to go to bed.
– Nicolas Cloutier (@NCloutierTVA) January 18, 2024
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.
– Stu Cowan (@StuCowan1) January 18, 2024
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.
Sportsnet broadcast said #Habs ended four-game road losing streak with win over Devils. In fact, they ended a one-game road losing streak. They lost in Philadelphia on Jan. 10, but won their previous road game before that in Dallas on Jan. 2. #HabsIO
– Stu Cowan (@StuCowan1) January 18, 2024
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.
– The Curfew Boys: A Montreal Canadiens Podcast (@TheCurfewBoys) January 17, 2024
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.
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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.
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.