The Canadian played on 39my game of their season on Saturday night at the Bell Center, and from a strictly technical standpoint, they are not yet halfway through their 2023-2024 schedule. But this detail will not prevent us from making some (almost) mid-season observations anyway.
We need to give the net to Montembeault more often
Is this team part of a minor Atom hockey league, where everyone has to play? No, and the latest news is that the Canadiens are a National Hockey League club. Given this situation, the net should fall more often on Samuel Montembeault. Because ? Because although no one in this organization says it, he is clearly the best of the club’s three goaltenders, a conclusion already evident before Saturday’s game, during which he deflected 45 of 48 shots his way. All in all, the Quebec goalkeeper participated in 18 of CH’s 39 games, and if this club wants to win more times between now and April, Montembeault should be the one chosen in two of three games, especially since he is the club’s only goalkeeper. with a winning record. We obviously understand that in an ideal world, the Canadian would like to trade Jake Allen for two first-round picks and a top prospect, but that’s not going to happen, so it might be a good idea to drop the concept. of the “showcase” for a veteran goalkeeper whose value is already known by everyone.
Kent Hughes is not a magician
In that sense, it should come as no surprise that Jake Allen is still here on this date and time of year. Since the start of the Canadian’s season on October 11, we can list a total of 10 transactions on the official NHL website. Of these, not a single transaction involved a guard. In fact, we have to go back to September 19 to see a transaction involving a bouncer, Casey DeSmith, who didn’t even have time to stop by for an expensive latte in Old Montreal before being told to went directly to Vancouver. In short, the goalie market isn’t exactly hot right now, and that partly explains why there are still three goaltenders in Montreal’s locker room.
The flame of hope has not dried (yet)
We look at the NHL standings on this short Sunday and what do we see? We see the Canadian in sixth place in his division, but we also see the same team just five points away from a playoff spot. Between now and the end of the month and his rest week before the All-Star break, the Canadian will have to play ten games, six of which will face clubs that at the time of writing these lines are in the playoffs. . In other words, the Canadian’s immediate future should become a little clearer when he returns from the break on February 6 in Washington. If the team is no longer in the running by that date, we should expect a few departures between now and the trade deadline on March 8. On the other hand, if the club is still in the game, could management be tempted to stop following the plan and go into acquisition mode? We’ve seen stranger things before.
reinforcements will arrive
There is another approach that is also possible: do not try to acquire anyone else because there are reinforcements that will arrive soon. We already know that two attackers, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Tanner Pearson, have returned to skate in Brossard, suggesting an imminent return to play in both cases. For his part, Alex Newhook is not there yet, but an optimistic scenario suggests he could return in mid-to-late February after injuring his left ankle during a game against the Florida Panthers on Nov. 30 at the Bell Center. . At the time of this bad luck, the Canadian had mentioned a 10- to 12-week absence, leading up to the aforementioned playing period. Before falling into action, Newhook had accumulated six points in his previous six games. It remains to be seen, obviously, if the Canadian will remain competitive when he is ready…
The Canadian is what the Canadian should be.
And it is here that we quote, appropriately, the legendary Bill Parcells, who was once an American football coach and also a philosopher in his spare time. Old Bill liked to say that a team is what its record says it is, and that has never been more true than in the case of the Canadiens, who have a record of 17-17-5. CH is a .500 club, that couldn’t be clearer, and the last two games amply demonstrated what we already knew, that is, that this team is capable of good performances, and also less good ones. It’s an improvement over last season, but the good little .500 clubs don’t sneak into the playoffs.