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Montreal Canadiens

Farrell Enjoys Solid NHL Debut As Canadiens Keep Good Lottery Odds

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Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher

The Montreal Canadiens travelled to Pennsylvania on Monday to face the Philadelphia Flyers in a classic tank battle. The Flyers won 3-2, scoring a late third-period goal to secure the win and ensure the Canadiens would maintain the best possible Draft Lottery Odds.

It was anything but an exciting game, however, it did give us an opportunity to check out two players that may play a big role in the Canadiens’ future: Sean Farrel and Cayden Primeau.

Gallagher Gets Going

Brendan Gallagher has been playing his best hockey of the season lately, as evidenced by his three goals in the last three games. Though it would be unfair to qualify Gallagher’s season as disappointing before the hot streak.

If anything, he was incredibly unlucky, seeing as he leads all Canadiens players when it comes to generating individual high-danger scoring chances.

Gallagher opened the scoring in the first period in a play that is officially listed as unassisted, but Jake Evans, Joel Edmundson, and Justin Barron deserve some praise for getting the puck to the net in the first place.

Evans, in particular, has shown fantastic chemistry with Gallagher since returning to the lineup, which is fitting, seeing as both players are attempting to re-establish their place in the Canadiens roster.

As an aside, it’s encouraging to see Gallagher find his stride, not just because he’s one of the hardest-working players in the NHL, but also because fans had started to sour on a player who has given everything, including his health, to the city of Montreal.

That’s not to say he did not deserve criticism at any point this season, but it was rather unfortunate how quickly fans seemed to forget about his overall tenure with the Canadiens, which has been nothing short of impressive.

Primeau Provides

Cayden Primeau faced 28 shots, making 26 saves, seven of which were of the high-danger variety.

He looked shaky at times, but played well enough to consider it a good start for the 23-year-old goaltender that has struggled to find consistency in recent seasons.

We must remember there’s still plenty of developmental runway left in Primeau’s case, and despite many fans cooling on his potential, there’s time to right the ship.

To do so, Primeau will require consistent usage.

In otherwords, there’s little he can do to prove his worth without a proper number of opportunities, which has not been the case since he made his debut for the Canadiens organization in 2019-20.

It’s also worth remembering the majority of the starts he’s been given have come in emergency situations, when the Canadiens’ roster looked much closer to an AHL lineup than one you’d see in the NHL.

Farrell’s First

Sean Farrell’s first NHL game was quiet, though it did involve a few nice passes and smart defensive positioning. He drove to the net, showing off his offensive instincts, and was not caught out of position, providing evidence of his NHL readiness.

If there’s one thing that’s clear, it’s that Farrell thinks the game at an NHL level, which means he should quickly acclimatize to the league despite his lack of professional experience.

It was the opposite of a baptism by fire. If anything, it gave Farrell an opportunity to experience professional hockey without having to stress too much about making his NHL debut, an ideal situation for a young player that has already played a significant amount of hockey in the NCAA this season.

His line, which featured Jonathan Drouin at centre and Denis Gurianov on the wing, was anything but excellent. They struggled to form chemistry, which is to be expected with a brand-new line, but you’d be hard-pressed to argue Farrell was the cause of the lack of cohesion.

They were given a little over 10 minutes of 5v5 ice time and controlled just 22 percent of the shots while they were on the ice.

Once Farrell gets a few more practices under his belt, he’ll be a lot more comfortable, which should lead to a less tentative style of play, not to mention a little more chemistry with his linemates.

Rafael Has Poise

Rafael Harvey-Pinard scored his 13th (!) goal of the season, which means he’s now fifth on the team in terms of goals scored this season, tied with Mike Hoffman, who has played 30 more games than Harvey-Pinard.

A stick tap goes out to Evans and Jesse Ylonen for their strong work prior to the desperation goal.

It was too little, too late, but considering where the Habs are headed in the standings, that’s the perfect way to end the game. An honest effort that solidifies their Draft lottery odds is as good as it gets.


The Canadiens are back in action on Thursday, facing the Florida Panthers at the Bell Centre. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 PM ET.

All statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted. Via NaturalStatTrick.

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Pierre B.

Erratum: Rafael Harvey-Pinard scored his 13th (!) goal of the season, which means he’s now fifth on the team in terms of goals scored this season, tied with Mike Hoffman, who has played 30 more games than Harvey-Pinard.

Pierre B.

PHI’s win over MTL gave them a 4 points lead over MTL who have only 7 games left to play; PHI has 2 games in hand, their last two being against CLB and CHI. It’s now unlikely that MTL can overtake them. Did Hughes attempt to tank his team by imposing Primeau in goals and Farrell on LW (his first game)? This was a critical 4-points game in the race to the bottom.
STL’s win in overtime against VAN put both these teams with an 8 points lead ; STL has two games in hands and VAN have 1. DET’s win over PIT gave DET a 7 points lead over MTL; DET also has 1 game in hands. These 3 teams will soon be out of reach.
ARI is the only other team that MTL could realistically catch up; ARI only has a 1 point lead and they also have 7 games to play, but with 3 are against bottom-10 teams: SJS, ANA and VAN.

Last edited 2 months ago by Pierre B.
Tyrone

I felt the exact same thing. Add to that the curious choices in the shootout yesterday too. Good on HuGo for doing their part.

John Spearing

In fairness, Philly also started Felix Sandstrom… it was his 2nd career win in 19 career starts (both wins this year in 14 starts) 😉
And with Dach out, there was an opening for Farrell.

Tyrone

Who says coaches will never tank? Yesterday St. Louis uses a bunch of Dmen and Pezzetta in the shootout over better available players. Tonight Primeau gets a start out of the blue against a team we’re trying to stay below in the standings. With the team getting healthier and our schedule not being as difficult, management seems to be doing their part to ensure we end up with the best pick possible. 😁

Habbotsford

St. Louis was asked after last night’s game why he changed the lineup after the win in Buffalo . He said , “ Ask Kent “ . This is reported in Brian Wilde’s , wild horses section . By that account Hughes wanted to see both young players at least for a game . I can’t see Primeau as contributing to the loss at all . He stopped a couple of breakaways , with 2 minutes plus left to play, both defencemen got caught up Ice with the game tied 1-1 . A little more goal support would have helped too .

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