The Montreal Canadiens faced the New York Islanders on Saturday night, falling 2-1 in yet another game that featured a difficult first period.
As a reminder, the short-term pain caused by games such as the one against the Islanders should lead to long-term gain, given the Canadiens’ lottery odds at the upcoming Draft and the high-end talent available in the prospect pool.
The Canadiens have spoken ad nauseam about their unfortunate penchant for having bad starts, and the importance of starting the game on the right foot.
They started the last game against the Nashville Predators with intensity and purpose, but failed to do so against the Islanders, allowing two goals in the first six minutes of play.
It’s a familiar refrain for the Canadiens, who have spent the majority of their season playing with a one or two goal deficit early in their games.
Luck Of The Irish
Evans is not an Irish name, it’s actually Welsh, but if Jake Evans did not have bad luck, he wouldn’t have any luck at all.
He’s been the Canadiens’ best player over the course of the last five games, powering a veteran resurgence in the lineup thanks to elevated intensity and a strong work ethic.
Unfortunately, Evans had to leave the game on Saturday night following an awkward incident that took place during a throwaway faceoff at the end of the first period.
Those who are squeamish and those who have had knee or leg injuries in the past may want to skip over the video below, which shows Brock Nelson falling directly on Evans’ leg.
Evans was unable to leave the ice under his own power, and did not return to the game.
It’s unclear whether he will be able to participate in Sunday’s game against the New York Rangers, but at the risk of playing internet doctor, it’s safe to say he’s unlikely to take part in the afternoon matchup.
Jake Evans left the ice in a lot of pain after this. Don't think he'll be back. pic.twitter.com/Li9X1cwZ33
— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) January 15, 2023
Nick Suzuki hadn’t scored in 11 games, which is an eternity in his world.
Even though he continued to rack up assists at an impressive rate, the lack of goals seemed to have frustrated the Canadiens’ captain in recent games.
He put an end to his scoring drought with a fantastic individual effort in the third period. It was his 16th goal of the season, and it gave the Canadiens are an influx of energy when they needed it most.
Nick Suzuki is back among the goals! pic.twitter.com/NimjxS4vKr
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 15, 2023
Lady Byng Potential
Canadiens fans would probably prefer to hear about Cole Caufield scoring goals, or being invited to the All-Star Game, but there’s something else going on with Caufield this season that’s worth discussing.
As pointed out on TVA Sports’ broadcast, Caufield yet to earn a single penalty this season.
Of course, he isn’t exactly known for spending much time in the penalty box, seeing as he has only been assessed six minor penalties over the course of his career.
But now that he’s emerged as one of the best goal scorers in the league, his excellent discipline could lead to a Lady Byng Trophy nomination at the end of the season.
It’s worth remembering Winnipeg Jets forward Kyle Connor won the Lady Byng last season by taking just two minor penalties in 79 games.
The Canadiens are back in action on Sunday, facing the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The puck drop is scheduled for 5 PM ET.