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Canadiens Postgame

Canadiens Dach, Montembeault Shine In 4-2 Loss To Bruins

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Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens went toe-to-toe with the top team in the NHL, the Boston Bruins, and looked like they belonged, thanks to their exceptional goaltending and burgeoning centreman.

When general manager Kent Hughes spoke of competing in every game, even in a losing effort, this is likely what he had in mind.

The Canadiens had a tall task ahead of them, especially with all the injuries on their roster, in trying to defeat the team that’s only lost five times in regulation this year,

Despite the mismatch on paper, the Canadiens showed some fight and kept the Bruins at bay as best they could; with Samuel Montembeault standing on his for most of the game.

Unfortunately, David Pastrnak and the Bruins proved too much for the Canadiens, especially in the third period, as they continued to push the pace of the game.

There was a lot to like in terms of developmental takeaways.

Kirby Dach looks like a legit top-six centreman and has been the Canadiens’ most dominant forward in the month of January.

Justin Barron looks like he’s taking a significant step forward as of late, playing with poise and confidence, while contributing to the offensive production in a sustainable way.

And the Montreal Canadiens may, despite themselves, may be discovering that they had a No.1 goaltender all along.

That and more in your game review:

Centre Of Attention

Since the Canadiens’ glut of injuries forced Kirby Dach back to his natural centre position, his game has not only transitioned easily from wing to centre; it’s gone up a notch.

The 22-year-old has seen his confidence increase with each passing day, as playing down the middle has afforded something that alluded him on the top line with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield; significant possession of the puck.

Now that he’s being tasked with running his own line, Dach is routinely being tasked with the transition and it’s contributed to an uptick in offence for him, with 7 points in his last nine games.

He’s beginning to use his shot more frequently, which has helped him match to double his goal-scoring count this season in the month of January alone.

He put it on full display tonight, jumping on a rebound from Jeremy Swayman on the power play and firing home his 9th of the season and again late in the third period by tapping in a loose puck on a mad scramble in front of the net for his 10th.

As Dach continues to develop as a centre, it’s becoming clearer by the game that centre is not a position of immediate worry for the Canadiens; but you can never have too many!

Positive Signs

Justin Barron has looked more and more comfortable in the NHL over the last few games.

He’s begun utilizing his offensive weapons to his advantage; most notably his strong first pass and booming shot from the point.

Although he is still getting used to playing a strong and structured game on defence, he’s shown a lot of poise with the puck in the offensive zone.

As of late, he’s been effective at walking the line and maintaining offensive zone pressure, and he was rewarded for his efforts tonight, as his point shot deflected off Alex Belzile and right to Kirby Dach to tie the game at 2-2 in the third period.

He continues to show the aptitudes that project toward a top-4 defenceman in the future, but there is still some work to be done.

Nonetheless, Barron looks like a completely different player during this call-up than what we’ve seen in the past; a positive sign in his development this season.

Holding Down the Fort

We’re starting to run out of ways to describe how important Samuel Montembeault has been to the Montreal Canadiens as of late.

The 26-year-old has been nothing short of exceptional for the Canadiens over the last month, posting a .937 save percentage in his last seven games; and he showed more of that clutch play tonight.

The Canadiens’ netminder faced a staggering 19 scoring chances in the first two periods alone and made some great saves to keep the team in the game.

His lateral movement was on point, his puck tracking was laser-focused and he battled for every rebound he allowed.

Montembeault’s fighting spirit alone has helped the Canadiens gain some confidence in their game and keep them in every game; something they haven’t had over the last two seasons.

As Montembeault continues to make the best of this opportunity with Jake Allen injured, he’s more than proved he deserves to be considered a 1B goalie at the very least right now with his elite play.

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