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Canadiens Postgame

Another Lifeless Loss To Senators A Wake-Up Call For Canadiens



montreal canadiens ottawa senators

The Montreal Canadiens hosted the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night, giving the home team an opportunity to avenge their embarrassing loss to the very same Senators last week.

The Canadiens made several lineup changes ahead of their rematch. In addition to Arber Xhekaj and Johnathan Kovacevic’s presence on the blue line, forward Tanner Pearson played his first game since early December.

Rafael Harvey-Pinard was listed as the team’s fourth-line centre on the official game sheet, though it should be noted that the 25-year-old forward had never played as a centre, not even while playing Junior hockey. This meant that Jake Evans was taking the draws on the fourth line, then quickly making his way to the bench to allow a player from the fourth line to take their regular shift.

The Senators ran the show during the majority of the game, leading to a 4-1 loss and yet another result that left the Canadiens demoralized.

The good news for Habs fans is that the team’s strategy moving forward is clear. They must remove any delusions of grandeur ahead of the NHL trade deadline. This is not a team that possesses the talent or coaching to make the playoffs. The rebuild is far from over.

Let’s take a look at those highlights.

Here We Go Again

There are two evergreen truths when analyzing the Canadiens.

The first is that regardless of where they are in the standings, the Habs constantly get outworked by the Senators whenever they face each other. The other is that Martin St-Louis struggles when it comes to preparing his team, as evidenced by the endless stream of opposing goals in the first period.

This time around the Senators jumped to a quick 2-0 lead, with the first goal coming while the Canadiens were on the powerplay. Despite the imbalance in numbers, forward Ridley Greig managed to be the first player to pounce on a juicy rebound given by Jake Allen.

It was the epitome of terrible defensive structure, leading to an eight-shorthanded goal against the Canadiens, the second-worst numbers in the entire NHL.

You’ll note the Habs decided to go with four forwards for the defensive-zone faceoff, a decision that cost St-Louis dearly.

To give you an idea of how poorly the Canadiens started the game, we can simply take a look at the expected goals in the first frame.

The Habs controlled a grand total of 5 percent of the expected goals, giving the Zamboni driver a very easy first-intermission assignment, seeing as the ice in the Senators’ end was still fresh.

I won’t show you the second goal, which beat Allen cleanly. It involved another play in which the Canadiens failed to maintain any semblance of defensive structure.

Instead, we will take a look at the Senators’ mothers enjoying their visit to Montreal, because it’s at least somewhat uplifting.


Acting Chops

As per usual, the Senators were involved in a fair amount of embellishment any time the opportunity arose. By this point, you’d hope NHL referees would start to take note of the exaggerated movements and adjust their calls.

It’s rather embarrassing and it happens on a nightly basis. It doesn’t take away from their dominant performance in the first half of the game, but it is why the Senators have a reputation around the NHL as a team that does not hesitate to add a heavy dose of mustard to their flailing-limb dance moves.

Mike Matheson certainly made very light contact with Josh Norris, but there’s no need to drop to the ice as if he was reenacting a scene from Planet Of The Apes.


Wake-Up Call

The Senators scored their third goal of the game while the teams were playing 4v4 hockey.

Needless to say, it was yet another poor example of defensive awareness by the Canadiens. Fans don’t necessarily expect the Canadiens to win every night, that’s simply not realistic for a rebuilding team.

But when fans at the Bell Centre used their hard-earned money to watch their favourite team lay an egg, they’re well within their rights to express their disdain with the lack of effort.

The referees gave the Montreal Canadiens plenty of opportunities to get back into the game, however, they were let down by their special teams, another recurring theme for St-Louis’ team.

At this point, it’s a matter of pride. Getting run out of their own barn by the worst team in the Eastern Conference has to be a wake-up call for the Canadiens.


St-Louis made some line modifications for the third period, promoting Josh Anderson to play alongside Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki.

It did lead to a slight uptick in scoring chances, and we have to give credit to St-Louis for attempting to salvage the game.

Caufield had several chances to score, and Kaiden Guhle hit the post, creating a little momentum for the Canadiens.


Johnny On The Spot

Kovacevic was relegated to the press box for the last three games, but he made an immediate impact upon his return to the lineup by scoring the Canadiens’ first goal on Tuesday.

It’s worth noting Kovacevic now has six goals this season, placing him just one goal behind Matheson for the team lead in goals scored by a blueliner.

Unfortunately, the late-game push was too little, too late.

The Montreal Canadiens will be back in action on Thursday. They will face former Habs goaltender Patrick Roy and the New York Islanders 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.