About Last Night: Habs No Pushovers

By JD Lagrange – It was fast. It was furious. It was entertaining. You had lots of goals, you had a resounding fight, you had a penalty shot, you had saves. That’s what it’s all about. And Martin St-Louis’ team came out on top 6-2! To think that some fans would rather see the Habs lose games – or tank, as they say – instead of enjoying that kind of game is… mind boggling to say the least.

But let’s face it: it was one of those nights when everything goes your way for the Canadiens. Still, after a season where it seems like everything has been going against them, it sure was refreshing to see the puck bouncing for them, wasn’t it? I have retrained a few highlights from the game. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Goal Caufield

He’s on fire! He fully took advantage of a turnover by that Coyotes in their own zone. Wrong guy to turn it over to, and he made them pay. It was already Caufield’s fourth goal of the season… in five games! He simply continues the same type of production since St-Louis took over as the Canadiens’ head coach on February 9th, 2022.

You got Jackeyed!

Arber Xhekaj was challenged by long time tough customer Zack Kassian. It turns out that it was a mistake. We have come to expect the AX-Man to win most of his fights but what came from this tilt was… shocking. Not only did he win the fight, he literally manhandled and rag-dolled the Coyotes’ tough guy. Kassian even missed some time, having to retreat to the dressing room to get fixed up.

Slick Nick… Datsyuk?

While killing a penalty, Nick Suzuki went on a breakaway and was hooked. The referee awarded the Canadiens’ captain a penalty shot. We know that Suzuki is shifty and creative, but what was coming was… Pavel Datsyuk-like! He came across right to left and flipped the puck over the glove of a surprised Connor Ingram.

Juraj on the board!

Yes, it has come! Juraj Slafkovsky scored his first NHL goal on a turnover in the Coyotes’ zone. After being stood out at the blue line by 6-foot 5-inches defenseman Josh Brown, Xhekaj (him again) went deep into the Coyotes zone to avenge his buddy Slaf by throwing a body check on Brown… which resulted in the turnover. Slafkovsky turned, skated to the net and beat the goaltender glove side for his first NHL goal. The crowd went absolutely wild and gave the 18 year-old an ovation that he will not soon forget. There’s charisma and then, there’s Caufield and Slafkovsky.

First for Gallagher

Brendan Gallagher is having an amazing start to this season, but the puck just wasn’t going in… until last night. Gally scored his first goal of the season, rewarding him for the hard work and sound play that he’s been displaying. He could have had two but just missed the net from his own zone when the Coyotes had pulled the goalie.


Six different players participated in the scoring last night. Josh Anderson (2), Cole Caufield (4), Brendan Gallagher (1), Juraj Slafkovsky (1), Nick Suzuki (3) and Sean Monahan (2) in an empty net were the Canadiens’ goals’ scorers.

Kaiden Guhle (22:19) was once again the most utilized player by Martin St-Louis last night.

Surprisingly, Jordan Harris (21:31) was second in ice time. He finished the night with a +4 rating, 4 shots, 1 hit and 4 blocked shots.

Jake Allen stopped 25 of the 27 shots he faced, for a .926 saves percentage. So far this season, the 32 year-old has a 2.02 goals against average and a .938 saves percentage.

The Canadiens went 0/1 on the power play and didn’t allow a goal in three occasions while short-handed. This allowed St-Louis to rest some of his top players as Suzuki played a season-low 14:56 and Caufield only 13:13. Mike Hoffman was the player with the least ice time at 12:08. Xhekaj played a career high 17:40 in which time he had 3 hits and 3 shots on goal, finishing with a +1 differential.

The Canadiens’ next game is on Saturday at 7:00 PM ET as the Dallas Stars will visit the Bell Centre.

More reading…

Getting Two of The Top-3 Picks At The Draft

Go big or go home, they say. That’s what Brian Burke, then GM of the Vancouver Canucks, did at the 1999 NHL Draft. He had his sights on Henrik and Daniel Sedin and he had some work to do in order to get them. What did he do? He put his work boots and hard hat on and went to work.

To set the table, the 1999 Draft was not top heavy, very much like this year’s Draft. The Canucks already owned the third overall pick that year. So this is how he pulled it off:

  1. Burke traded defenseman Bryan McCabe and the Canucks’ first round pick in 2000 (the following year) to the Chicago Blackhawks for the fourth overall pick.
  2. He then paired the fourth overall pick and two third-round picks to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for the 1st overall selection.
  3. A deal was then made by Burke to trade the 1st overall pick to the Atlanta Thrashers in a deal for the 2nd overall pick with the assurance they would not take a Sedin. Atlanta took Patrik Stefan first overall.

This year

Now let’s set the table for this year’s NHL Draft. Much like 1999, there is no generational talent available this year. While Shane Wright is first on most people’s lists, the gap between him and Juraj Slafkovsky and Logan Cooley is quite minimal. You do have three fairly evenly matched players, all three predicted to become very good players but no star quality. All three come with question marks.

With that in mind, what if the Montreal Canadiens, who currently own the first overall pick, were to try to acquire two of the three picks at this year’s Draft? The New Jersey Devils are willing to trade the second overall pick, according to GM Tom Fitzgerald. So we know that at least one pick is available. However, contrarily to what some Habs’ fans and media seem to think, you don’t get the second overall for a Josh Anderson and a pick or prospect. And quantity never equals quality. You have to give something the team wants.

Obviously, there are many options and it can get quite convoluted. However, in both scenarios presented, I’m involving the Dallas Stars.

Jeff Petry
33rd overall pick 2022
18th overall pick

Option A

The first one goes something like this:

Shea Weber
Jonathan Drouin or Mike Hoffman
18th overall (DAL)
Jayden Struble or Mattias Norlinder
3rd overall
27th overall (CAR)

The Canadiens then select first and third overall. It gives them flexibility as they can get Wright and Slafkovsky, or Wright and Cooley, or Slafkovsky and Cooley… or they go off the board and pick a center and a defenseman.

Option B

Or a second option could go along those lines:

1st overall
Shea Weber
Jonathan Drouin or Mike Hoffman
Jayden Struble or Mattias Norlinder
3rd overall
27th overall (CAR)
Cam Dineen
Cam Dineen
Jan Mysak or Brett Stapley
18th overall (DAL)
2nd overall

Montreal then gets to pick second and third overall. Assuming that Arizona picks Shane Wright, the Habs then get Slafkovsky and Cooley, so they have their goals’ scoring power forward AND a top two lines center. They also still own two first round picks, number 26 (CGY) and 27 (CAR), which they could package to move up if they want as based on a recent article, it could be worth a 12-16 overall pick. And if the Wright fanatics think for a second that he’s worth more than both those guys, let them think that as they’re hopeless.

Or you think of other ways to get two early picks, as there are plenty of possibilities. Or you can have the vanilla Draft: the Canadiens pick Wright… or Slafkovsky… or Cooley. Nothing wrong with vanilla. It’s good. It’s safe. It’s easy. But it still leaves a lot of work to do for shedding salary and might not jump start or accelerate the reset as much as getting two of the top three picks would do.

More reading…