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Canadiens Highlights

Canadiens Once Again Let Down By Special Teams Versus Devils



Montreal Canadiens New Jersey Devils centre

The Montreal Canadiens hosted the high-flying New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.

It was the battle of polar opposite schedules, as the Canadiens had played in Buffalo the previous night, whereas the Devils had not played since last Friday.

Cayden Primeau was given his first start of the season, and it appeared to be a good call as he made several great saves to open the game, but the Devils eventually took over thanks to a go-ahead goal by former Hab Tyler Toffoli.

Once the dust had settled, Toffoli scored a second goal and the Devils emerged with a 5-2 win.

For the view from the other side of the ice, don’t forget to check out our sister site, New Jersey Hockey Now.

Primeau Watch

The Canadiens are missing several important players due to the neverending injury curse, but Tuesday night’s roster was probably the healthiest lineup Primeau has backstopped so far in his NHL career.

With that in mind, it was important for him to play well, even if he was facing one of the most potent offences in the NHL. His first-period save during a Devils 2v1 is likely to feature on most highlight reels this week, and for good reason.

It was the type of save that used to cause the Bell Centre faithful to erupt in chants of ‘Carey! Carey!’

But the most important save probably happened earlier in the period.

It wasn’t as nice as the save he made during the 2v1, but it did allow Primeau to get a good feel for the puck, which surely acted as a confidence booster for the 24-year-old goalie.

Things got a little more hectic as the game went on, owing to the Devils’ clear superiority in both talent and execution. I wouldn’t go as far as saying Primeau played poorly down the stretch, but he, along with the rest of the team, had a hard time containing the Devils in the second half of the game.

Primeau’s tracking was off, but so was the defensive positioning of every Hab during most plays.

The Canadiens might be able to beat the Devils in an all-out chaotic sprint, but they have no chance of beating a team as talented as New Jersey by taking several questionable penalties.

New Jersey scored two easy powerplay goals, while the Habs struggled to even enter the offensive zone with the man advantage.

In the end, it’s fair to say that Primeau could have done better, especially on Toffoli’s first goal of the game, but he was far from the reason the Canadiens lost.

Once again, that was due to the special teams being as useful as tits on a bull.

The Barron Of Halifax

Considering he started the season as a healthy scratch, few predicted that Justin Barron would score the team’s first goal by a defenceman. And almost no one predicted he would score the first two goals from the blue line, but that’s the beauty of hockey.

Even with all the advanced analysis available, you simply never know what will happen.

Barron scored in back-to-back games by taking advantage of a rather impressive shift by Michael Pezzetta, who has done a fantastic job in the limited minutes he’s been given this season.

I know I have a history of praising fourth-line players that don’t particularly stand out in the grand scheme of things, but there’s something to be said about a player on a cheap contract that brings legitimate value to the team.

Right now, Pezzetta is that guy.

They’ve Got The Blues

I’ve hyped two particular defencemen a lot in recent weeks: Mike Matheson and Johnathan Kovacevic.

That being said, they’re probably going through the toughest stretch since they joined the Canadiens. Matheson, in particular, had a rough game against the Devils.

He fell half a dozen times and really didn’t look like himself.

That is, until he sliced through the Devils like an electric carving knife, scoring one of the nicest goals you’ll see in the early parts of the 2023-24 season.

The Canadiens failed to give Matheson any outlet options and he wisely took matters into his own hands.

Jack Hughes Epitomizes Entertainment

We tend to focus on the Canadiens in our recaps, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how enjoyable it is to see Jack Hughes at work.

He skates on clouds while cutting through opposing players with the greatest of ease.

It’s a joy to watch.

The Montreal Canadiens are back in action on Thursday when they’ll host Adam Fantilli and the Columbus Blue Jackets 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.