In their haste to put the blame, in their hope for change, in their wish for management and draft people to get fired, there was a sense of urgency. Why? Because fans knew that in spite of the current struggles, there are better days ahead. And if you’re pushing an agenda that’s time sensitive, when you know that the future is bright, you cannot wait for that to happen before getting the people you want out to be… out.
Such is the case for a substantial part of the Montreal Canadiens’ fan base when it came to Marc Bergevin and Trevor Timmins. Knowing full well that this season’s struggles are directly related to the never seen before amount of long term injuries to key players, this was the time to make that push for change. As they tried to do the same last season, during this incredibly unusual season where the team had to battle through 27 games in 43 days. But when the schedule became even, when the team was relatively healthy, Bergevin was “saved”, they say, by a successful playoffs’ run.
Those people jumped on the draft history since 2003, when Timmins was hired by the Canadiens, to show his so-called lack of success. But they didn’t want to talk about the outstanding job he’s done since the reset of 2018. They didn’t want to talk about the change in player-development since Bergevin revamped the scouting and fired Sylvain Lefebvre. They didn’t want to talk about the 45 picks since then, with 11 more to come. And they certainly didn’t want to acknowledge the quantity of quality Habs’ prospects being dominant at their current levels, in their current leagues.
About last night
Last night, the Canadiens snapped a 7-games losing streak by beating the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in a shootout. It’s just one win, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. What stood out in that game was that aside from Jonathan Drouin and Ben Chiarot, the team’s best players were their young guys.
Cayden Primeau stopped 37 of the 39 shots that he faced and while he didn’t have to make tough saves in the first period, he was seriously challenged in the final two frames. He also stopped all three shootout attempts from the Flyers. Primeau looked cool, calm and collected last night. He was in control of most of his rebounds and inspired confidence.
Although we don’t see his name on the score sheet, last night was Cole Caufield’s best game of the season. He had a career-high eight shots on goal, missed on a few, with 16:13 of ice time. More so, he was a threat most times he was on the ice, fast, shifty, getting in good scoring positions. This is encouraging.
It was also Kale Clague’s best game in a Habs’ uniform. Fast, mobile, he moved the puck well and supported the attack. Mostly though, he was making the right decision and didn’t turn the puck over like he has in his first few games. Learning the system and getting accustomed to his teammates takes time and he took a step in the right direction.
In spite of finishing the night at minus -2, Nick Suzuki had more ice time than any other player on his team, spending 25:09 minutes on the ice! He was involved in the play, generating chances for his linemates, while being his usual self defensively. Alexander Romanov was third on the team in ice time with 24:37 minutes, surpassed only by Chiarot on defense.
Jesse Ylönen didn’t score but he was involved all night at both ends of the ice and he’s starting to show more confidence with the puck. We all know that he can skate and shoot, but his passing ability is surprising. Jake Evans was returning to the line-up and showed his versatility (again) by playing wing on Suzuki’s line. Ryan Poehling is also coming along nicely and showed some good things last night.
I think most of us will agree that Jeff Petry missed a good opportunity to keep his mouth shut. Not that what he said was wrong, but this is Montreal and everything is blow out of proportion… particularly when things aren’t going well. He’s been here long enough to know better. Saying that it’s like they have no structure is not saying that there isn’t structure. It means that they’re playing outside the structure imposed by the coaching staff. He even clarified that in a later answer but that’s not what is being discussed, what reporters are pushing… of course. Controversy sells, remember?
Still, if you’re going to come out with a statement like that and you’re not playing well yourself, you better be ready to back it up on the ice from then on. That statement shone a spotlight on him… and Petry didn’t back up his statement. In fact, he was directly responsible for the two goals scored on the Habs. On the first one, he whiffed on a puck in front of the net and forced Primeau to make a save up high, before the Flyers put in the rebound. On the second goal, with a few minutes left to the period, he took an unnecessary chance to force the play (and was nowhere close), allowing an odd-man rush which ended up in the back of the Canadiens’ net.