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Canadiens Postgame

Canadiens Push Golden Knights To Limit In Entertaining Game



Montreal Canadiens vs Vegas Golden Knights

The Montreal Canadiens were in Nevada on Monday night to face the Stanley Cup champion Golden Knights.

The Habs played relatively well all things considered, but they could not manage to end the Golden Knights’ streak, as Vegas emerged with a 3-2 shootout victory.

If you’re still up, don’t forget to check out Game Over Montreal, which goes live immediately after every Habs game. Here’s the link to join the fun with a great community of Canadiens fans.

Let’s dive into the action.

Monahand Him A Goal

Goaltenders always have a hard time forgetting about the goals they allowed, and the Canadiens’ opening goal is sure to be burned into Adin Hill’s memory.

It was probably the easiest shorthanded goal Sean Monahan will score in his career, but it’s also a good reminder that he’s been the best Canadiens player this season.

His line, which also features Tanner Pearson and Brendan Gallagher, tends to control the play, and even more importantly, they control the expected goals, as well as the actual goals.

His fifth goal of the season was also his fifth special teams goal, as Monahan has yet to find the back of the net at 5v5. But no one will complain about his two shorthanded goals or his three powerplay goals.

All that matters is that Monahan is playing extremely well, he’s improving his linemates, and he’s getting results.

Top Line Production

The line featuring Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, and Rafael Harvey-Pinard has played well in recent games, but they’ve had a hard time finding the back of the net at 5v5.

They were finally rewarded for their solid outings late in the third period, as Suzuki capitalized on some chaos in the offensive zone to score his second goal of the year.

The play was the result of some great passing, smart movement, and the hockey gods finally smiling down on the top line.

Not only did the top line tie the game late in the third period, but they also controlled well over 80 percent of the shots during their shifts.

We should also point out that Kaiden Guhle had yet another game alongside Justin Barron. The pairing was dominant, controlling over 75 percent of the shots and scoring chances.

It’s too early to declare them a game-changing pairing, but the early results are very encouraging.

Second-Line Struggles

Filling in for Kirby Dach at centre is a rather tall order. He created time and space for his wingers because he could control the pace of the play in the neutral zone.

Alex Newhook is doing his best since he took over as the second-line middleman, but the reality is Dach’s skill in transition is very difficult to match.

Not only has the second line stalled from an offensive production standpoint, but they’re also getting buried out there.

Heading into the game, Newhook, Josh Anderson, and Juraj Slafkovsky had controlled fewer than 40 percent of the shots and expected goals, which is ample evidence to suggest there’s no chemistry between the three.

Against Vegas, they predictably struggled mightily, with just 44 percent control of the shots, and 42 percent control of the high-danger chances.

There are some encouraging elements to the combination. For example, Anderson has reached a high-danger scoring area on several occasions, however, he tends to use up his runway before he gets a shot off.

It’s also a mismatch in terms of style. Anderson is a strictly north-south player, Newhook plays an east-west game, and Slafkovsky tends to excel when playing on a line that focuses on puck control, rather than rush attempts.

That leads to Slafkovsky not having any idea what to do, Newhook attempting to create sustained offence in the offensive zone, and Anderson rushing up and down the ice with reckless abandon.

It’s not pretty.


Not So Special Teams

The Golden Knights’ second goal did not officially count as a powerplay marker, but it did occur while they had a 6-on-5 advantage due to a pending penalty to Tanner Pearson for goalie interference.

Add that to the Paul Cotter goal in the first period, and we have yet another game in which the special teams failed miserably.

Many have argued that there’s no point in practicing the powerplay or penalty kill since those are elements of the game that can be fine-tuned in the future, but it’s quite clear the special teams are destroying all the momentum the team creates at 5v5.

Improved discipline wouldn’t hurt, either.

The Canadiens approach games with the discipline of a drunken Komodo dragon.

Matheson Missplays

I don’t want to be too critical when it comes to Mike Matheson‘s play. He played against Vegas, but it was clear he was not 100%.

And yet, you could say the same about his entire season.

Something feels off. He’s always off balance, he’s having a hard time with accuracy in his passes, and his decision-making has been questionable at best.

As it stands, Matheson has some of the worst underlying numbers on the team, which is concerning.

We can’t ignore that he’s still getting points, but the value is mitigated by the fact that the Habs are being outplayed by a significant margin while he’s on the ice.

Montreal Canadiens fans are well aware of what Matheson can do when he finds his rhythm, and it’s certainly better than what they’ve witnessed this season.

Highlight Of The Night

Take a look at this robbery by Samuel Montemeault in overtime. Now that’s what we call a clutch save.

Suzuki’s Shootout Goal

The Montreal Canadiens are back in action on Thursday. They will head to Arizona to face the Coyotes. The puck drop is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET.

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