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Canadiens Postgame

Slafkovsky Excels and Caufield Scores In Win Versus Blue Jackets



Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens were in Ohio on Wednesday to face the Columbus Blue Jackets, giving them a perfect opportunity to build some momentum against a team struggling to create results.

It wasn’t an ideal start, but the Habs rallied to win 4-2, ending their road trip on a very successful note.

Let’s dive right into the highlights.

Another Rough Start

This has been a common theme, but the Habs were once again ill-prepared to start the game. Yes, they had a couple of decent scoring chances, including a Juraj Slafkovsky chance which took place because he took a direct flight path to the net.

But overall, the Blue Jackets controlled the period, as evidenced by their 60 percent share of the shots and high-danger scoring chances. It’s not as simple as blaming head coach Martin St-Louis for their difficult starts, but preparation is part of his job, so he does have to bear some of the blame for the issue.

Giveaway City

But you can’t blame St-Louis for blatant mistakes, as we saw from, well, the entire lineup in the first period. Cole Caufield was probably the worst offender when it came to giveaways.

Officially, the NHL had him listed with just one giveaway, but according to Sportlogiq (RDS), he had four. I only saw three, but suffice it to say it was not a banner period for the team’s best goal-scorer.

Speaking of bad decision-making, Gustav Lindstrom will not receive a minus 1 on this play, but the first goal against was clearly not Justin Barron’s fault. A poor line change left Barron with no chance, as Patrik Laine slid the puck by Montembeault.

New Source Of Offence

The Canadiens responded thanks to Alex Newhook’s seventh goal of the season, which, at the time, meant he led all Habs players in that very important statistical category.

He came very close to scoring off the rush due to his excellent speed, and then he followed it up with a great shot after a good play by Nick Suzuki, whose patience tends to lead to high-danger scoring chances.

It should also be noted that Newhook seems to be playing a more patient brand of hockey since joining Suzuki on the top line.

Flying The Zone

The second Blue Jackets goal was due to another poor decision. Guhle’s pass was easily intercepted, and Montembeault was left with no chance once the puck reached his crease.

I don’t want to absolve Guhle here, because he clearly made a bad play, but you’ll note the Habs forwards immediately flew the zone without any confirmation that the puck was secured. All three of them were out of the zone by the time the pass was made, and that’s the type of play that drives coaches crazy.

The Habs struggle defensively, and some of that is due to the defencemen, but the forwards need to do a much better job providing outlet options and support this season.

Speaking of supporting defencemen, we need to send some praise Slafkovsky’s way. Not only has he been the best forward in the last five or so games, but he’s doing a good job in the defensive zone.

His defensive awareness quickly turned into a scoring chance in the second period when he provided an outlet option and then quickly filtered the puck up the ice to Christian Dvorak.

Dvorak’s shot was cleaned up by Cole Caufield, his seventh goal of the season, and his 60th career goal in his 145th NHL game. It’s nice to see Caufield capitalize on rebound chances because he’s forced to beat goaltenders cleanly on way too many occasions. I’m not saying it’s fine when he goes several games without a goal, but he shouldn’t always have to generate every single chance himself.

The Habs followed it up with some very solid play in the offensive zone, including a play that led to the team’s third post of the night. It was also Guhle’s second post against Columbus.

Just as everyone expected, it was Joel Armia who eventually handed the Canadiens the win by deflecting a Mike Matheson point shot. It was also Sean Monahan’s best play in a very long time.

Armia wasn’t done there. He hustled to ensure a clear would not result in an icing, which led to Gustav Lindstrom’s second goal of the season.

Smart Play Of The Night

It didn’t result in a goal, but full marks to Montembeault for his quick thinking which led to a good scoring chance for Joel Armia.

The Montreal Canadiens are back in action on Thursday. They will face the Florida Panthers at the Bell Centre. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm ET.

All Montreal Canadiens statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted. Via Natural Stat Trick.