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Martin St-Louis celebrates the life of a club officially eliminated from the playoffs
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

Last night, the Canadiens lost their game (7-4) to the Tampa Bay Lightning. It wasn’t exactly an easy game for Martin St-Louis’ men, who were up against a big club on the other side.

We’ll come back to what caused the loss, but the bottom line is that the Canadiens won’t be in the playoffs.

It’s no great surprise, of course, because nobody – or almost nobody – believed it this season, but it’s the reality this morning: the spring dance is closing its doors on the Habs for the third time in a row.

Of course, you can say “next year, the Habs must aim for the playoffs” or any other cliché of the sort. But the reality is that the next playoff race is still a long way off. It’s a year away, in fact. #Mathematics101

And between now and then, the Habs will have to make progress both with the guys who are there and with potential additions.

Martin St-Louis can’t control the tools his bosses are going to give him to get the Habs back to the playoffs. That said, he can control the development of the guys he has on hand.

And that starts at the end of the season.

Even if the Habs are eliminated, Martin St-Louis refuses to see it as a funeral for his club. Instead, he prefers to see it as a celebration of life.

It’s a question of mentality as we approach the end of the season.

Last year, the Canadiens had an ugly end to the season. Fan interest was down, and on the ice, it wasn’t exactly a great product either.

Will it be different this year? We’ll see.

But aside from the fact that the Habs have been eliminated as such, what should we take away from yesterday’s loss at the Bell Centre to Martin St-Louis’ old team?

Because yes, there’s a lot to remember.

1. Cayden Primeau didn’t have a great game. He gave away six goals (including one in an empty net) on 34 shots, which hurts statistics. He’s in bad shape for April’s Molson Cup… #Constance

He gave up four goals in the second period, and Martin St-Louis thought about finishing the game with Samuel Montembeault. However, the fact that the Lightning had to start the third period on the power play convinced the coach not to change his goaltender.

He felt that the problem wasn’t necessarily in front of the net (he didn’t say that Primeau was good, but that his goalie wasn’t the only one to blame for the horrible second period) and he also wanted to give Primeau a chance to bounce back.

And in the third, Primeau gave nothing away and the Habs scored twice, bringing the score from 6-2 to 6-4.

2. Cole Caufield found another way to find the back of the net. He’s been shooting a lot this year and hasn’t always had the success he’d like in the goal column, but yesterday he scored. He’s now up to 22 goals.

Juraj Slafkovsky also found the back of the net and picked up an assist. Nick Suzuki also picked up an assist.

3. Joel Armia scored twice. He now has 16 goals, which equals his NHL single-season high. Who’d have put $2 on that at the start of the season?

His resilience has earned him a Bill-Masterton nomination with the Canadiens. And deservedly so.

4. Matt Tomkins, who was the Lightning’s goalie yesterday, has two NHL wins. The first came last November, in his third career NHL game. The second came yesterday.

Both times at the Bell Centre.

5. Yesterday’s game showed that it really is time for referees to be accountable for their decisions. They don’t explain themselves publicly and that results in games like yesterday.

Those who saw it know it was ordinary.

The fact that Nikita Kucherov was not punished for his action on Kaiden Guhle, who was tackled at the start of the game and never returned afterwards, is the talk of the town.

There’s still no word on the condition of Guhle, who did not play again following contact with the Lightning forward.

6. The Canadiens gave the Lightning several numerical advantages (5), and Jon Cooper’s club took advantage twice. The Habs often defended themselves against a good team.

In particular, Mike Matheson was punished twice, which didn’t help the numerical disadvantage unit.

Without Guhle, Matheson still played 28:13 of the game. Jordan Harris (24:14) was the other defenseman to get more than 20 minutes of playing time.

David Savard, Arber Xhekaj and Jayden Struble all played between 17 and 19 minutes.


The Canadiens have seven games left in the season, including three at home. Tomorrow night, the Maple Leafs will be in town for the Habs’ first game of the weekend. On Sunday night, the Habs will be in New York to take on the Rangers at MSG.

So it’s off this morning for the Flanelle.

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