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Samuel Montembeault played well “so we wouldn’t throw his bobblehead in the garbage”.
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot
Yesterday, the Montreal Canadiens received a visit from the Arizona Coyotes. Both teams were in the midst of a consecutive losing streak: five for the Habs and 12 for the Coyotes.

The difference? According to head coach Martin St-Louis, the Habs were playing their best hockey, in terms of on-ice performance, of the season during the losses.

The plan of the coach, whose goal is not to lose hockey games? Send his #1 goalie against a bad team in the hope that he can make a difference.

And that’s exactly what happened: the Habs won that game 4-2.

The Coyotes lost their 13th game in a row, but they didn’t deserve to lose. After all, the Habs played a bad game, and even though they came out of a hockey game with the two points, they still didn’t deserve it.

And it’s not me saying it: it’s the coach.

Martin St-Louis said the Habs played their worst game in six games. So he considers it a bit ironic that this is the one the guys won.

But at the same time, it’s easy to explain: Samuel Montembeault was (finally?) very good.

During the five-game losing streak, Monty hasn’t been his usual self. His seven goals against the Rangers hurt, and his loss to the Sabres wasn’t his best game of the year.

But yesterday, he showed up to play against a club that had been well prepared by André Tourigny.

The Coyotes, if you count shot attempts (so even those that missed the net), brought about 80 pucks to the Habs’ net. 38 shots were on target and Montembeault, who was better than his counterpart, stopped 36 of them.

He was in much better shape than his team-mates and is the reason why the Habs won their game. No doubt about it.

He did it the day the Habs gave fans a bobblehead in his likeness, and after the game, he said he’d done a good job of encouraging fans not to throw their bobbleheads in the garbage on their way out of the Bell Centre. That’s a good line, seriously.

Obviously, the W gave the Quebec goalie a taste for jokes. He said he heard fans asking him to score a goal when he had the puck and the Coyotes goalie was on his team’s bench.

He said, however, that those fans certainly didn’t see him at the team’s skills competition at the Bell Centre on Sunday, struggling to hit the hash marks.

Montembeault, who helped the Habs to victory, could afford to make such comments. He did so, much to the chagrin of those who want to see the club lose the rest of its games between now and the end.

On that point, I’m somewhere in between: I obviously understand the importance of the defeat for the Habs, because yes, they are important.

That said, I’m not going to throw the first stone at the club when they go out and win games. After all, these guys are competitors and they’re not programmed to lose. Too many setbacks can deprogram a club…

That said, I think we can all agree that as long as we’re losing games, doing so yesterday would have been… ideal?

Right now, the Habs have a 7.5% chance of winning the lottery (sixth place) on Tankathon. In the overall NHL standings, the club is 26th with 54 points in 59 games.

The Senators (53 points in 57 games) and Coyotes (51 points in 58 games) are behind the Habs this morning.

But that’s not all we can take away from this game, which wasn’t the most exciting hockey game in the history of the Montreal Canadiens, let’s say.

So what do I take away from all this?

1. After taking three penalties in Saturday’s game, Juraj Slafkovsky took two high-sticking penalties last night. In one case, it was far into attacking territory.

Martin St-Louis has never been happier with one of his players, let’s say. He didn’t throw him under the bus, but you can tell he didn’t appreciate it, saying only that the youngster had to learn.

2. Speaking of the power play, the Habs didn’t get a power play for the second straight game. That’s pretty rare in hockey.

Let’s see if it continues.

3. Speaking of Slaf: he was punished by skipping his turn once during the game. Joshua Roy took his place for a shift, which whipped the Slovak for the rest of the game.

It’s also a nice (little) bonus for the Quebecer, who’s been playing some excellent hockey lately.

4. The first trio couldn’t get a shot off in the first half. The guys finished with four shots in all (one for each winger and two for Nick Suzuki, who scored in an empty net), but it wasn’t enough.

In recent games, it’s been more difficult for the first trio. And Nick Suzuki is not to blame for that, in my eyes…

5. Even if the first trio didn’t rise to the occasion, the Habs were finally able to count on the production of their depth players. Joel Armia (his tenth of the season), Jordan Harris and Tanner Pearson found the back of the net.

Pearson scored his first in 14 games since December 4. It’s about time he scored… even if we know he’s been injured.

6. It was so hard to find a player who stood out in the game (aside from the Habs’ #1 goalie) that Josh Brown was named the game’s third star.

The problem? Like Clayton Keller, he didn’t play. #Oups #Error


The Canadiens played their last game at home before the trade deadline, which is in nine days. Next game at home? March 9, against Toronto. #SaturdayEvening

Between now and then, the Habs will play four games in the United States. The Panthers (tomorrow), Lightning (March 2), Predators (March 5) and Hurricanes (March 7) are all on the menu for the Flanelle.

Departure for Uncle Sam’s country is today. A training session is scheduled for 11 a.m. in Brossard, after which the plane will take off for South Florida.

How many games will the Habs win before returning home? And above all, how different will the line-up be for the game against Toronto?

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