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Lane Hutson: for better or worse, he was himself last night.
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot
Last night, Lane Hutson made his NHL debut. It was, of course, a moment eagerly awaited by everyone in Montreal.

The American had the chance to play at home, in Detroit. And even though the Canadiens lost in overtime (5-4), the young man no doubt has memories to last a lifetime.

It obviously started quickly with his first point (against his idol Patrick Kane, among others) in his second appearance on an NHL rink. Still…

Yesterday’s game allowed us to see what I’ll call “the real Lane Hutson” on the ice. Why do I say that?

Because he could simply have played it safe and not taken any chances on the ice, just so as not to get into trouble on his debut in his new colors.

But obviously, that’s not in his DNA… for better or for worse.

I imagine that being made to feel confident by his new team-mates (going to dinner with David Savard and the boys, in particular) and being so well received helped him to heed Martin St-Louis’ advice: have fun.

So, as I was saying, this gave us the best and the worst.

We saw it in the first period, when he helped Brendan Gallagher score, but was on the ice for the Red Wings’ first goal. That, too, is the Lane Hutson experience.

But we also saw it in overtime, when he stepped up and had an excellent chance to score… but it created a turnover and allowed the Red Wings to score and win the game. It was perfect for the standings, but we’re getting sidetracked.

I know, I know: the overtime game moves fast, and it’s not the only one to cause three-on-three turnovers. That said, it’s still a perfect example of its strengths and weaknesses in a matter of seconds.

Yesterday, he was there to burn a year off his contract, but also to see what he needs to work on over the off-season to come back strong at the club’s next training camp. We shouldn’t take everything we saw on the ice for granted … even if, in the end, we saw some great things.

He didn’t seem afraid of the NHL’s level of play, which is a few notches above the NCAA’s, let’s face it. His passes were precise and he often used his strengths well on short plays.

It should also be noted that the young man was overused. After 40 minutes of play, he had been on the ice for 14:35 and finished the game playing for almost 22 minutes (21;54, to be precise), which is no mean feat. Only Mike Matheson and David Savard played more than him.

It’s also worth noting that he got one shot, finished the game at -1 and that Martin St-Louis was impressed by the young man’s game.

But hey. Yesterday’s game, the penultimate of the 2023-2024 season, wasn’t all Lane Hutson. And that’s even if he was clearly the one who made the match interesting.

So, what do I remember?

1. Last Thursday, the Habs led the Islanders 2-1 and lost in overtime. On Saturday, the club led 4-3 against the Senators and lost in a shootout. And yesterday, a three-point lead (4-1) was left on the table in a 5-4 overtime defeat.

It’s not ideal for learning, and it gives you a point in the standings, which isn’t ideal in defeat. That said, Martin St-Louis could have tried to lose the point. #Wild

2. Once again, the Habs didn’t have a power play during the game. It’s happened a lot this season, which is pretty special when you think about it. Generating a penalty is an art.

In the last four games, it’s happened three times to the Habs.

3. The Red Wings were playing meaningful games. They had to win yesterday’s game to stay alive… and even if it didn’t look like it at the start of the game, it was clear that in the end, the guys were fighting for their lives.

The three-point comeback is a good example.

4. Samuel Montembeault is not having the end of the season of his dreams. He’s not playing badly, but he seems a little out of breath. He sometimes gives away goals he shouldn’t.

Giving away three goals in the last 25 minutes isn’t ideal.

5. The Habs got eaten by the Red Wings (who made sure the Michigan chickens would get their wings clipped if the famous “five goals eight wings” applied there) in terms of shots.

35 versus 21 isn’t even close.

6. Rafaël Harvey-Pinard hadn’t scored since January 15 in Colorado. That’s three months… and only his second goal in 44 games this season.

At least seeing him find the back of the net is a fitting end to a campaign.

7. Throwing an octopus on the ice reminds us that we’re in Detroit. It happened twice yesterday, and that’s when the tide began to turn for the Red Wings.

Do you believe in chance?

8. Justin Barron, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Brendan Gallagher (twice) found the back of the net. Gally has four goals in his last four games, which is no mean feat.

But it’s too late.

9. Juraj Slafkovsky (no points since his hat-trick), Cole Caufield (whitewashed for the first time in April) and Nick Suzuki had no points last night in Michigan.

Suzuki has 76 points in 81 games. He’s not expected to score six points tonight, which will prevent him from reaching the 82-point plateau. Still, his season is superb.


The Canadiens saw Lucas Raymond (last two goals of the game) prevent them from coming home with two points in the standings. For Tankathon, that’s good… even if there’s one point too many in the standings alongside the overtime defeat.

Right now, after 81 games, the Habs still have an 8.5% chance of winning the lottery.

(Credit: Tankathon)

Martin St-Louis’ men control their destiny. A regular-season loss tonight would guarantee them a top-5 finish (towards the bottom) in the NHL and a top-7 pick in the next draft.

The Canadiens can only finish 26th, 27th or 28th in the NHL.

In the event of a tie in the standings against either the Sens (who play in Boston tonight) or the Coyotes (who host the Oilers tomorrow for the last game in franchise history in Arizona), the Habs will finish below their opponents.

Why? Because of their lower number of regular season wins. The Habs have 20, compared with 27 for the Coyotes and 24 for the Sens.


Tonight’s game won’t be easy for the Habs, even though they’ll be back home and energized by the young defensemen and the crowd. After all, the Red Wings will be fighting to make the playoffs with everything they’ve got.

The Habs won’t be practicing this morning, by the way.

Logan Mailloux will make his NHL debut tonight. It would also be surprising to see Martin St-Louis take Lane Hutson out of his line-up, and we can hope to see Carey Price in the stands.

His family’s on the road, anyway…

(Credit: Instagram)

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