He was brought in to help management to allow for a better players’ evaluation. He was a calculate risk to turn things around enough for players to start playing the game everyone knew they could play. He is there to get the most out of the players and the team. He is more than a coach, he is an evaluator inside the dressing room. Martin St-Louis is doing the job that he was appointed to do.
The most noticeable example of a player who is returning to his old self since the head coach change is Cole Caufield. While there were doubt as to whether he should be sent to the Laval Rocket or kept in Montreal, we can now say that those doubts have since vanished. Game in and game out, Caufield is one of the Canadiens’ best offensive players ever since St-Louis took over behind the bench. His play has convinced management that they can now count on him not only this season, but for next season as well.
The other player who has showed the biggest improvement in his play is Jeff Petry. His poor season is well documented here and everywhere. Coming off four consecutive seasons of 40 points or more, his play this season was not worthy of his status and certainly not of his new contract. We now see why Marc Bergevin gave him that contract.
The team is playing better. We notice more passion, better defensive coverage, players blocking shots, and the organisation’s third and fourth (or even fifth) string goaltenders are getting some help from the players in front of them.
Ben Chiarot has three points and a differential of plus-6 in his last three games. Artturi Lehkonen is continuing his good season with three points and plus-3 differential in his last five games. Amongst goaltenders with five starts or more since the coaching change, Samuel Montembeault is sixth in the NHL with a .938 saves percentage and eighth with a 1.99 goals against average. As an added bonus, Corey Schueneman and Laurent Dauphin are emerging as NHL caliber players.
While the demand and value were already high on the trade market for Chiarot and Lehkonen (if he gets traded), imagine the trade value for Petry now, as teams see that he hadn’t forgotten how to play hockey. There were apparently several teams interested in him but with his play, it will erase doubts in their mind and they might be willing to take on his full contract.
For a team went all season without winning two games in a row under Dominique Ducharme, this five game winning streak is rather stunning and unexpected. They have now passed the Arizona Coyotes in the standings and sit 31st overall, only four points back of the Seattle Kraken.
There are plenty of good young prospects in this year’s Draft and without jumping both feet into the “tank” mode mentality, it is statistically proven that the earlier you pick, the better your odds are to get the better prospect, the player that you want. If they keep winning like this, the Canadiens and their fans risk the possibility of having gone through a season from hell and miss out on a very, very good pick.
Let the trades begin, Mr. Hughes. Martin St-Louis will still get them some good worth ethics, but the results might not be as devastating for the long term future of the organisation as a whole.