The Montreal Canadiens tried to start the year on the right foot, but fell back into old habits as they dropped their game against the Nashville Predators 6-3.
The Canadiens spoke about wanting to shore up their defensive play to ring in the new year, and unfortunately, it was more of the same for the club; to the delight of their opponents, who preyed (pun intended) on a young and hesitant team.
The Canadiens’ long road trip, which has them sporting a six-game losing streak, could not come to an end soon enough, as the club has completely crumbled at the mid-point of the season.
Unlike at the beginning of the year, Jake Allen and Samuel Montembeault aren’t bailing out the club, and the top line isn’t scoring in bunches.
It creates situations where the Canadiens are down by a couple (or more) goals very early on and can’t fight back to get themselves in the game.
It’s unfortunately a sign of things to come, but there are some points that need to be addressed nonetheless:
Although youngsters like Arber Xhekaj, Jordan Harris and Justin Barron are getting their reps in now and will undoubtedly learn from their mistakes as they move forward, there is a growing concern with the usage of Juraj Slafkovsky.
The 18-year-old was once again relegated to 4th-line minutes, playing 12 minutes or less for the third game in a row. With the Canadiens headed home for a much-needed, lengthy homestand, perhaps a trip to Laval may be in the cards for a young man who cannot get the playing time and deployment he needs to excel at the NHL level.
It’s likely going to be a long season for fans, who are watching the World Juniors and dreaming of what could be, but the proper development of the Canadiens’ youngsters this season is paramount, and a decision will need to be taken on Slafkovsky sooner or later.
Conceding multiple goals early on has been a problem for the Montreal Canadiens as of late, and it was a point that head coach Martin St-Louis wanted to fix to start 2023.
Unfortunately for the Canadiens’ bench boss, their first-period performance was far from structured.
The Canadiens allowed a flurry of goals right out of the gate, as Cody Glass, Colton Sissons and Mattias Ekholm all beat Samuel Montembeault with the first 11 minutes of the game to give the Predators a stranglehold on the game right out of the gate.
Although the Canadiens showed some life toward the end of the first period and into the second frame as well, they were never able to overcome the major hole they dug for themselves early on in this game.
— Bally Sports: Preds (@PredsOnBally) January 4, 2023
Cole Caufield has been one of the few bright spots for the Montreal Canadiens this season, thanks to his exceptional show of offensive ability.
The 22-year-old notched his 22nd goal of the season off a nifty individual play to put Montreal on the board in this game.
Of the Canadiens’ 102 goals this season, Caufield accounts for an impressive 21%; one of the highest goal-scoring shares in the NHL; and one that could make him a very rich man in the summer.
On top of being a consistent goal-scoring force on a low-scoring team, the Canadiens sniper remains on pace to hit over 47 goals this season, which would be the first time a Canadiens forward has reached the 40-goal plateau since Vincent Damphousse did it 29 years ago.
Oh my Cole Caufield, that's just a filthy goal. pic.twitter.com/HLwt31iY4u
— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) January 4, 2023