(Montreal) Kirby Dach is not the most demonstrative in front of the microphones, but he can be with his teammates.
At the sound of the final siren, the Canadiens players were waiting in line to congratulate Samuel Montembeault after the 3-2 victory against the Lightning. It was there that Dach surrounded the keeper with his long arms and, like the Giant Ferré, made him take the bear. A loving hold of the bear, of course.
“Sam was phenomenal tonight, that’s why I gave him a big hug. He saved our ass a few times,” Dach summed up.
Dach could have been the target of his teammates’ affection himself, however, as in his first game in over a month he was reminded of the immense value he possesses within this team.
Forget his goal, which was the result of a gift from defender Darren Raddysh, guilty of a perfect pass… to Nick Suzuki. Even the ever-reliable Andrei Vasilevskiy gave Dach a boost, only partially blocking the puck before laying it in his net.
During the match, Dach multiplied important actions to allow his team to recover pucks, or to keep them in the offensive zone. In his last appearance of the game, with three minutes to play, he and his linemates Suzuki and Rafaël Harvey-Pinard managed to keep the puck as far as possible from Habs territory.
“He’s such a talented player, he works hard. At the end, he came from behind and lifted the player’s stick to get the puck out. In the offensive zone, he is very dynamic,” described Montembeault.
The use that Martin St-Louis made of it on his return says a lot about its usefulness within the team. The head coach had a whole problem to solve with, on his side, a mortgaged center line, and on the opponent’s side, the presence of Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov within a line, and Steven Stamkos within of another. Rather than pitting Suzuki against one and Dach against the other, he employed Dach on the wing in order to “strengthen” that unit against Point’s.
“Our plan is for him to be a center,” St-Louis recalled. Dach’s employment on the wing for this kind of confrontation, however, revealed an additional option that will present itself in St. Louis when it has a healthy formation, with for example a Jake Evans to play against the other line. opponent’s offensive.
For what it’s worth, the Canadian went 4-10-2 in Dach’s absence. In his last 12 games, the team is 7-4-1. Other factors account for this gap, including a series of strong opponents in the absence of the great number 77. But there is nevertheless an interesting trend to watch in the longer term.
For his part, Montembeault continued to earn points in this match. His stop while doing the splits, of course, caught the eye. “When I’m warmed up it’s fine, but if you ask me to do that before the game, it might ‘pop’ somewhere!” “, joked the Quebec goalkeeper.
Casually, he was on his fourth straight start, a first this season when Jake Allen is healthy. The latter, however, has allowed 12 goals on just 33 shots in his last two outings, which puts him on the siding for now.
“We can do anything good for him, but he’s the one in the net. He has a very nice progression this year,” noted St-Louis.
It is important to remember, however, that in the month following the break from the All-Star Game, it was Allen who surpassed Montembeault by a good margin.
This is the reality of a team that does not currently have a number 1 goalkeeper, strictly speaking. Lately, however, St-Louis has shown that he is ready to adapt and opt for the goalkeeper “of the moment”.
Big day at the office for a player who spent most of his evening against Kucherov and Point. Two assists and a 2 against them.
History repeats itself for the winger, guilty of three turnovers despite minimal time out.
Defenseman Mike Matheson now has 16 points (7 goals, 9 assists) in 20 games since the All-Star break.
Kaiden Guhle’s first season in the NHL is over. The defender officially suffers from a sprained upper ankle. The organization said his injury would not require surgery, but he would miss his team’s final 11 games. Guhle thus concludes on a sad note a campaign which will have been limited to 44 meetings, but during which he has revealed himself as a safe bet. A knee injury initially deprived him of eight weeks of activity. Three games after his return, he sat out with an “upper body” injury. His final comeback lasted five games. Despite playing considerably less than his opponents, Guhle sits fifth among league rookie defensemen with 18 points. Since we are talking about the medical department, note that Josh Anderson will not accompany his team to Boston, he who was injured in the last minute of Tuesday’s game by being knocked down in his own goal by Mikhail Sergachev.
Jonathan Drouin invited himself where we least expected him on Tuesday. First, he scored a goal, which doesn’t happen often, as we know, and he did it with panache. Racing down the left flank, he accepted a pass from Denis Gurianov and surprised Andrei Vasilevskiy with a sharp shot. Then, at the very end of the third period, he was given the responsibility of running out part of the last minute of the match. Drouin himself remarked that it was the second time in a week that he found himself in action at the end of the course. ” I love that. It’s times like these that you want to be on the ice. You want to have the confidence of your coach. He’s starting to give me more, and it’s up to me to prove that I can stay there, ”commented the attacker at the end of the evening. Goaltender Samuel Montembeault for his part underlined the “beautiful play” of his teammate who, “instead of panicking” in the defensive zone, “lifted his head and sent the puck” towards Josh Anderson, who had rushed into the zone neutral.
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper rightly pointed out that Samuel Montembeault was “the best player” for the Canadiens. “We saw that on our side often with Vasi,” he added. Vasi is obviously Andrei Vasilevskiy, member of the short list of the best goalies in the NHL. The Russian obviously excels against all teams, but he is particularly intractable against the Habs. His last defeat in Montreal – and against the Canadiens in general – dates back to January 4, 2018. However, the one who has often been the best player on his team made an exception on Tuesday. On the first goal of the match, that of Kirby Dach, he was unable to control the disc, which gently rolled behind him. On the next one, Drouin’s, the shot was certainly precise, but if it had to be done again, this 6’4″ colossus would probably have preferred not to give him so generous access to the upper part of the net. File under ‘can do better’.