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The Canadiens have a better record than in 2022-2023: the team is making progress
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

Last night, the Canadiens hosted the Florida Panthers at the Bell Centre. It was obviously no easy challenge for Martin St-Louis’ men, given that one team is better than the other.

But in light of yesterday’s game, it’s clear that the best team on paper wasn’t the best on the ice.

The Canadiens won 5-3 against the Panthers, who didn’t exactly look like a top team. The Canadiens’ coach liked everything about his team’s game… and so he should.

Not much I didn’t like as a coach. – Martin St-Louis

We’ll come back to what made the Habs’ game a great one, but here’s what you need to know: the Habs’ victory means Martin St-Louis’ men have more points in the standings than last year.

In 82 games last season, the Habs maintained a 31-45-6 record, good for 68 points.

This season? The team has won two fewer games (I know, I know: there are eight left in the season) and has a record of 29-33-12 in 74 games so far. That’s good for 70 points.

Is that progress? Not according to my good buddy Tankathon, who says yesterday’s win was pointless.

(Credit: Tankathon)

I’ll say it again: rankings are important, but so are victories. And I don’t intend to cast the first stone at the Habs for coming out well against a team like Florida, since the team’s progression is important, too.

Because yes, for me, the Habs are progressing. The fact that the team has won four of its last five games is a sign that, in my eyes, it’s progressing… in addition to the standings, of course.

I say this because last year, I distinctly remember the Habs giving up at the end of the season. Nothing good was happening and the collective interest was no longer there.

But this year? It’s a different story.

The Habs are interesting because of their first line. A guy like Cole Caufield doesn’t score as often as expected (he did score a nice goal yesterday, though), but at least he’s making progress over 200 feet.

And what about Juraj Slafkovsky and Nick Suzuki? The more time passes, the more we realize that Slaf has the tools to become a great hockey player. And he’s showing it more and more on the ice.

But it’s Nick Suzuki who really impresses. The captain’s consistency is excellent for his team, and he shows it night after night. Not only does he stand up to the opposition’s best, but he also finds the back of the net.

Just yesterday, he scored twice – and gave credit to his teammates. #GoodGuyNick

He recently became the first player to score 30 goals since Brendan Gallagher five years ago. And now, he’s become the first since Max Domi (2018-2019) to score at least 70 points in a season.

He currently has 71, which shows just how far he’s come… but also highlights just how hard it’s been for the Habs to get talent in recent years.

But hey. The captain and his friends weren’t the only elements to note in the Habs’ victory last night over a team that had played Toronto the day before.

What am I remembering?

1. Have you ever seen a goal in review that’s finally awarded, only to be disallowed a few seconds later because of a communication error?

I haven’t either.

There was so much noise in the arena – despite the empty seats – that the officials on the ice didn’t hear what was said to them after the restart. For once, Brendan Gallagher had a favorable call…

But that didn’t clip the Canadien’s wings, and instead, the Quebec chickens got their wings clipped…

2. Is anyone surprised to learn that the Panthers, once the game was out of their hands, started playing naughty boys? Who’s surprised that Nick Cousins was thick?

No surprises here.

There were 14 penalties in the third, eight of them to the Panthers. The Habs were mostly punished when defending against the Panthers, who invaded the Bell Centre penalty box.

The referees didn’t want things to get out of hand, and they didn’t let anything get past them.

3. If there’s one person who benefited from the breaststroke, it was undoubtedly Samuel Montembeault. Late in the game, he wasn’t the busiest of the men due to the Panthers‘ indiscipline.

So, in the end, he beat his former team.

4. Joel Armia and Jake Evans found the back of the net. They had a good game – no surprise from Armia – and were important to the Habs last night.

The same cannot be said of Mr. Efforts, Josh Anderson.

5. I understand that the numerical advantages changed the game (the Habs had seven of them), but Mike Matheson still played for 28 minutes and 43 seconds. That’s something.

He finished the game at +2 and picked up an assist.


The next two games will take place at the Bell Centre: Thursday against the Lightning and Saturday against the Maple Leafs. No travel is planned between now and Saturday night.

The Canadiens will train at 11:30 this morning in Brossard.

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