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Canadiens Postgame

Montreal Canadiens Special Teams Collapse Versus Minnesota Wild



montreal canadiens vs wild

The Montreal Canadiens hosted the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday at the Bell Centre, attempting to win their second game of the season as well as their second game in a row.

Due to Kirby Dach’s absence, Rafael Harvey-Pinard shifted to the top line alongside Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield, while Alex Newhook centred the second line with Juraj Slafkovsky and Tanner Pearson. As for Josh Anderson, he featured on the third line with Sean Monahan and Brendan Gallagher.

It was a rather contrived way of creating new lines, removing all the chemistry the Canadiens had created in the first two games.

The result was underwhelming, to say the least.

Have you ever forgotten to bring in a frozen dessert from the car? Sure, you can always pop it back into the freezer, but it will end up looking terrible and will probably leave a weird taste in your mouth.

Well, that’s the best way to describe the Canadiens in this showdown, which resulted in a 5-2 win for the Wild.

As an aside, defenceman Kaiden Guhle had to leave the game, and he did not return, which follows the mass-injury script Canadiens fans are all too familiar with.

Fix It Already

There’s a difference between having a god-awful powerplay, which has been the case for the Montreal Canadiens for the better part of a decade now, and allowing multiple shorthanded goals.

Unfortunately, Canadiens fans were treated to the latter on Tuesday when the Canadiens’ disjointed powerplay went to ‘work’ midway through the first period.

It quickly fell apart, not only due to poor puck management by the team but also because of some questionable goaltending from starter Samuel Montembeault.

The Canadiens allowed Brandon Duhaime and Connor Dewar to score shorthanded goals just 25 seconds apart, a rather embarrassing feat when you consider that they wanted to start their season without Dach on the right foot.

By now, most fans have lost patience when it comes to the team’s disastrous powerplay, and consequently, many have called for the head of assistant coach Alex Burrows, but it’s worth remembering that head coach Martin St-Louis is the one who runs the show on the powerplay, which means it’s his responsibility to turn the tide of sadness whenever the team goes on the man advantage.

St-Louis has also mentioned that he’s not particularly fond of practicing the power play, which would make sense if it hadn’t become a significant momentum-sapping element in their game, but it’s quite clear that the special teams are currently sinking the Canadiens’ hopes.

Now, you may argue the Canadiens lack the personnel to ice a proper powerplay, but teams with fewer talented players have managed to produce something vaguely resembling a healthy powerplay in the past. Perhaps it’s time to change the strategy, which has essentially stayed the same in the last three seasons.

Or maybe they should just lean into their terrible strategy and add more drop passes. Make it a rule that you can only perform drop passes on the powerplay. All the drop passes now belong to the Canadiens.

Not So Special Teams

The Canadiens proceeded to take two penalties in short order, which led to a 5 on 3 powerplay opportunity for the Wild. This is a common occurrence for the Habs. Their lack of discipline was apparent last year, and they’ve already taken more than 16 penalties in three games this year.

Of course, no one expects teams to play perfectly while down two players, but it’s still worth noting that Joel Eriksson Ek had all the time necessary to fill out his taxes before taking a shot from the slot, even if he was surrounded by three Habs players.

Things could have been worse.

The Wild came incredibly close to scoring their fourth goal of the game just a few moments later. Montembeault, who struggled throughout the game, had a hard time tracking a pass, which led to a loose puck in his crease.

Eriksson Ek was half a second away from scoring another goal, but thankfully, Mike Matheson came to Montembeault’s rescue.

Minnesota got the goal back late in the second period, thanks to a nice set play by the Wild. Kirill Kaprizov’s powerplay goal was the Wild’s fourth special teams goal of the night.

And just for good measure, the Wild added a fifth special teams goal to the scoresheet.

Shooting Talent

It wasn’t all bad news for the Habs.

Johnathan Kovacevic looked quite good, and newcomer Tanner Pearson scored his second goal of the year after a smart shot blockallowed himy to drive the play up the ice. He opted for a shot, and it was a hell of a shot.

Pearson isn’t going to continue scoring on 100% of his shots, but at the very least, it’s great to see a player who went through a very difficult time with injuries finally get back to enjoying the sport he loves.

The Canadiens were a little more menacing in the offensive zone in the third period, but Marc Andre Fleury played like he always does in the regular season against the Habs.

Alex Newhook also found the back of the net late in the third period, but as they say, it was much too little and way too late to make a difference in the game.

The Primeau Situation

It’s rather clear that neither Montembeault nor Jake Allen are playing their best hockey. They had a hard time in the preseason, and the same can be said about their starts during the regular season.

That means it’s time to give Cayden Primeau a start.

And for once, it won’t be a start that involves playing behind a team that has lost roughly 32,469 man-games to injuries.

The schedule gets much busier in the next few weeks, presenting the team with a perfect opportunity to play Primeau.

At the moment, he’s not improving his value, nor is he working on his development. Essentially, Primeau is stuck in healthy-scratch hell. It’s probably time to see what he can do in a relatively good setting.

The Montreal Canadiens will be back in action on Saturday night as they host the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.

All Montreal Canadiens statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted. Via NaturalStattrick.

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How about a healthy round of “Fire Burrows” chant at the next home game? Last year they were chanting “Fire Lindy” in New Jersey and then the team reeled off something like 13 straight wins. What we witnessed tonight was abysmal. He very easily could have been canned along with Ducharme and nothing that has happened since shows he deserves to keep his job. It’s long overdue.


Time to give Cayden Primeau a chance.
He should get the next 2 starts, to see what he can do. Allen or Montembeault have not done enough thus far, to keep him out of the lineup. Time to see what he is capable of at this stage in his development.