The Montreal Canadiens returned to the Bell Centre following a very difficult stretch of road games, hosting the New York Rangers in an attempt to build some much-needed confidence.
Long story short, despite a decent start, the Canadiens failed to register their 16th win of the year, losing 4-1 to the Rangers in a very one-sided affaire.
The good news is that Joel Armia put an end to his lengthy scoring drought by scoring the Canadiens’ lone goal in the game, late in the third period.
Joel Armia inscrit les Canadiens au tableau indicateur!
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) January 6, 2023
One of the biggest issues plaguing the Canadiens this season has been their penchant for giving up early goals to their opponents, and consequently, playing catch-up for the rest of the game.
It’s an issue that head coach Martin St-Louis discussed at length before Thursday night’s game against the Rangers.
His team responded in style, keeping the scoreline equal throughout the first 20 minutes of play. You could argue the Canadiens were outshot at 5v5 in the first frame, and thus did not start the game on the right foot, but there’s another number we should be paying attention to when it comes to the Habs’ underlying numbers.
Montreal actually generated more high-danger shots than the Rangers in the first period (3-1), which is particularly encouraging given the Canadiens are among the worst teams in the league when it comes to the overall control of the quality chances this season (41 percent).
2022-23 In A Nutshell
Two sequences, in particular, stood out as perfect examples of the Canadiens’ puck luck this season. The first involved Jonathan Drouin hitting the post after creating an offensive opportunity due to some excellent positioning.
The second came shortly thereafter, as Filip Chytil scored his 10th goal of the season to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead.
That’s not to say Drouin deserved to score, or that the deflection that led to Chytil’s goal was unfair, but it did represent exactly how things have gone for the Canadiens following their relatively strong start to the season.
The pass by Lindy though 👀 pic.twitter.com/mSKeFaKSyq
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) January 6, 2023
Eyes On The Prize
Yes, the Canadiens lost their seventh game in a row, and yes it’s a little disheartening for fans when the team provides little to no excitement on most nights, but the short-term pain should lead to long-term gain.
The Canadiens have the most difficult strength of schedule in the NHL, which means Habs fans should expect many more losses in the near future.
But they should also start to get excited about the possibility of adding a game-changing talent (or two!) to the organization next season, seeing as the 2023 NHL Entry Draft is expected to be one of the best Drafts in recent history.