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Nick Suzuki didn’t understand how Martin St-Louis used his (three) crosses
Last night, the Montreal Canadiens were defeated 4-1 by the Ottawa Senators.

After losing 6-2 in Ottawa last week, the Habs again found a way to look bad against their Ontario opponents. But this time, it was at the Bell Centre after two days without a game.

It was also after a 9-4 loss to Boston.

The club had reason to retaliate and go out afterwards with the knife between their teeth, but for the first 40 minutes, the club played poorly. It’s becoming a bad habit these days.

In fact, in their last three games, the Habs have allowed 19 goals and scored just seven. That’s roughly the equivalent of losing 6-2 every time, if you take the rule of three and round it up.

It was horrible to see the Habs go out like that yesterday.

I think Jonathan Bernier of the Journal de Montréal summed it up best. In his article, which talks about the fact that the Canadiens players turned the other cheek after a tough game last Thursday, he had this to say:

To get into Heaven, turning the other cheek is a good strategy. To get into the playoffs, it’s not worth five cents. – Jonathan Bernier

That’s pretty good.

Of course, it’s worth mentioning that the Habs didn’t exactly put themselves in an advantageous position to try and beat the Sens. Why not? Because Jake Allen was in front of the net.

More on that later.

But the real reason is that the Habs decided to go with three center players for the game. With Mitchell Stephens returning to Laval to keep Joshua Roy up top, the club’s depth was affected at center.

Remember that at the beginning of the year, Alex Newhook and Kirby Dach were there. In addition, Christian Dvorak was nearing a return to action, so the Habs had a surplus.

Things change fast in the hockey world…

But hey. All this to say that Nick Suzuki, Jake Evans and Sean Monahan were the three centers of the game. They worked hard to hold down the fort for the coach.

But that doesn’t stop Nick Suzuki from not exactly understanding how Martin St-Louis deployed his centers.

In fact, Suzuki played for 21:47, being the most used forward of the group. That said, Jake Evans (20:25) and Sean Monahan (20:00) played quite a bit less than him. And the captain didn’t understand that.

As Patrick Friolet points out in his report on the match, the captain questioned his coach’s strategy with the centers in front of the media.

The captain pointed out that it wasn’t easy for the wingers to get involved, but he also mentioned that Monahan and Evans were used more often in double shifts (i.e., on two threes) than he was… and that he found that odd and interesting.

Rumour has it that he found it as odd as eating eggs for dinner.

Jokes aside, it’s clear that it’s not in #14’s habits to make comments that might sound like a player throwing his teammates under the bus. That’s not usually his style.

Could the last three games, which have greatly affected the club’s confidence, be affecting his morale? Perhaps, yes.

What you also need to know is that the captain can’t play 30 minutes either, and with five power plays on each side during the game, Martin St-Louis still couldn’t send in his #1 center.

Let’s not forget that Suzuki was the most used center, wasn’t he?

But hey. But that’s not all we need to remember about this game, which shows more than ever that the Habs often come out on top against bad clubs.

So what do I remember?

1. In front of a host of NHL scouts and executives, the Habs played poorly. Three turnovers led to goals by the Sens, who had no trouble beating Jake Allen. The latter didn’t earn any points yesterday.

After two ugly performances, the Canadiens were unable to come out strong against Ottawa, a bad team playing on the road. But hey, it doesn’t matter: the Habs had a good third AND the shorthanded team performed well.

2. By cutting two positions from a premium position (a center and a right-handed defenseman), the Habs decided to make room for Joshua Roy and Arber Xhekaj. Mitchell Stephens and Justin Barron have been cut.

The result? The two boys weren’t the most used players at their position… but they did get some power-play time on the second wave. Time for the youngsters?

3. If there’s one man who shouldn’t be exhausted this morning, it’s Michael Pezzetta. While the Habs were playing with three centers, it’s also fair to say they weren’t exactly playing with nine wingers.

Pezz played for 1:57 yesterday. That’s less time than brushing your teeth… and less time than the two minutes spent in the penalty box in the first period.

4. We don’t talk about it as much because it’s not the most important thing, but yesterday Cole Caufield got an assist. He didn’t score, but he did blacken the score sheet.

He also took six shots on goal. in 19:34 of play. Good.


The Canadiens have two games left before the All-Star break and festivities: tomorrow at home against the Islanders and Saturday on the road in Pittsburgh.

Need I remind you who will be behind the Senators-Islanders bench tomorrow night?

Patrick Roy’s Islanders may have lost last night, but the Habs legend is still turning his club around. The guys played well on Long Island against Vegas.

That makes two games where the Islanders are playing better.

You know as well as I do that, right now, the Habs aren’t playing to beat the New York Islanders. A major turnaround will have to take place on the sidelines of tomorrow’s game, which is important because of the Roy.

Will Samuel Montembeault be playing? How’s his neck?

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