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Canadiens Postgame

Canadiens Lose Sleepy Game, Hutson Advances to Semifinals

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The Carolina Hurricanes visited the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night, in what can only be described as a low-event match-up. Carolina beat the Habs 3-0, putting an end to the team’s three-game winning streak.

Rebuilding Context

It was a very sleepy first half of the game, but within that sleepiness, there were certainly positives to discuss for the Canadiens.

After all, the Hurricanes are Stanley Cup contenders, whereas the Canadiens are yet to take the next big step in their rebuild.

The game fits a recurring theme this season. Montreal can keep pace with some of the better teams in the NHL, at least for certain stretches. In the long run, talent wins out, but there’s something to be said about matching the work ethic of teams that are well above them in the standings.

Montreal Canadiens Shortcomings

The Hurricanes finally scored midway through the second period, exposing a significant area of weakness for the Habs.

Montreal has been very aggressive on the powerplay this season, a nice change of pace compared to the last few seasons, but it has come at a considerable cost.

Jordan Staal’s goal was the 12th time the Canadiens have allowed a goal while on the powerplay. Mike Matheson, true to his form, bobbled the puck at the blue line, giving the Hurricanes a high-danger chance that should have been avoided. The good obviously outweighs the bad when it comes to Matheson, but the fact of the matter is the Canadiens’ powerplay is actually worse this season, and the Habs lead the league in shorthanded goals allowed.

The change in powerplay tactics has made things much more entertaining, but it’s also a big drag on their results.

Morale Boosting

Jayden Struble had an excellent game against an opponent that does a great job pressuring defencemen in the offensive zone, as he and Kovacevic held a significant advantage in shots and scoring chances whenever they were on the ice. This is particularly important for a player like Struble who hasn’t enjoyed his best games down the stretch from a statistical standpoint.

That’s perfectly normal. He’s young and he also happens to have the least professional experience of anyone in the lineup.

It should also be noted Struble was a little more engaged in the physical battles, and that’s when he’s at his best.

 

That’s All She Wrote

Sebastian Aho loves playing against the Habs. He’s registered 22 points in 20 games, including the insurance goal midway early in the third period.

The Canadiens were once again let down by their special teams, another recurring theme this season. Martin St-Louis’ team has done some very good things at 5v5, but the powerplay and penalty kill are a mess.

 

Lane Hutson Palate Cleanser

If you’ve made it this far, you’re a true Habs fan, which means you deserve a legitimate highlight as a reward. Fortunately, top prospect Lane Hutson was in action on Saturday evening.

Hutson and the Boston University Terriers beat Minnesota 6-3, with the Montreal Canadiens prospect scoring the game-winning goal. This means he set a new career high in points, with 15 goals and 34 assists in just 37 games, an astonishing scoreline for a defenceman.

Hutson and the Terriers will face Denver in the semifinals on April 11th. The game will feature three Habs prospects: Hutson, Luke Tuch, and Sam Harris.

Harris, a fifth-round pick in 2023, also scored on Saturday to help Denver clinch a semifinal berth.

 

The Montreal Canadiens are back in action on Tuesday. They will host 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.

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peter

I would replace Matheson with Guhle on the powerplay. Also Harris played well until the shift from hell where he lost the puck 4 times and then was penalized leaded to the Canes second goal. Kotkaniemi see is great value for his $4.82 million per year contract with 3 goals in his last 53 games! Is he a buyout candidate for them?

Robin

Guhle can be very good on the power play. The mistakes that Matheson makes are correctable mistakes. I think he can overcome these missteps, so I predict that next year he will make less mistakes. Life is all about learning from our mistakes. If we don’t make mistakes we will never learn from our mistakes.

Me2

True, Montreal has given up the most shorthanded goals in the league. Also true that last season, the Habs gave up the fewest!

They’ve gone from giving up 3 shorties last season to 12 this year so far. I don’t think you can explain that by bringing up they’re more aggressive on the PP. I’d say they’re too sloppy handling the puck, too many giveaways this year, and probably some bad bounces in there.

Montreal does have a better power play this season, but only by a bit. They were around 16% for all of last season, about 17.5% so far this year.

No shame in losing to Carolina, they are a good team. As is Florida who we play on Tuesday, TB on Thursday, Leafs on Saturday and NYR next Sunday. Going to be a tough week.