(Philadelphia) In theory, it was supposed to be a duel between two similar teams. Two fairly young clubs, at the heart of a reconstruction process. But also two opponents whose leaders have expressed the wish to play “meaningful” matches as late as possible this season.

If Wednesday’s duel in Philadelphia was at all representative of where the two organizations concerned are, we can bet that the Flyers will stay in the game longer than the Canadian, who left the amphitheater, almost like a thief, with a point gleaned thanks to a 3-2 shootout loss.

Let us understand each other well. The Flyers, despite their surprising successes in the first months of the campaign, are not to be confused with either Jacques Lemaire’s Devils on the defensive level or with the Islanders of the 1980s on the offensive level. However, if we agree to consider the shot attempts on goal as an indicator of the pace of the match, it was never close, whatever the score says.

The 79 attempts awarded represent the 4th highest total of the campaign. And CH’s 47 attempts are 6th worst totals out of 40 games. The 18 shots on target after 60 minutes equaled the lowest salvo to date. All this on a short Wednesday, against a team which, probably, will not be in the next playoffs.

“We didn’t have our fastball,” said Martin St-Louis after the game. We didn’t play a good game. We didn’t have any energy, it seems. Something was missing. »

And added: “Tonight, we weren’t there. » A fair and honest observation that David Savard also made.

After three days without playing, during which Montreal held two full practices, and after an emotional victory against a league power last Saturday, how can we justify such a bland performance?

“Sometimes there’s no explanation,” St-Louis admitted. It’s a demanding season… For one reason or another, you don’t have your legs that evening. If we knew why, maybe we would do different things. […] Sometimes you think you’re doing whatever you think will work, and you don’t have your legs. It’s like that. »

It’s true that it’s like that. A journalist pointed out to the head coach that at least his team did not often experience such poor performances.

This is not false if we consider the 40 meetings that the Flannel played in 2023-2024. The 17-17-6 record, on the surface, is not catastrophic.

But Martin St-Louis’ men have only won two of their last seven matches. We talked about shooting attempts above. Of the four matches where CH allowed the most, three took place in 2024.

The Flyers “were faster than us tonight,” admitted Martin St-Louis. “We were too slow, everywhere on the ice,” added Nick Suzuki.

Goalkeeper Cayden Primeau, who said he was dissatisfied with his start to the match, but who was imperious in the third period and overtime, spoke of the opponent’s “patience”. Let’s insist: despite all the good things that can be said about the Flyers, there was no good reason for the Canadian to look so bad.

St-Louis, finally, celebrated three times the fact that its team had collected a ranking point. “All points have value,” added Nick Suzuki.

More critically, David Savard spoke of this point as a “bonus” that he did not “expect”. Adding a second point – the score was, after all, close – would have been “miraculous” in his eyes.

The fact is that the Habs have become a specialist in the art of stealing points. He has already played overtime 15 times. In a 3-2-1 point system, he would get murdered. Well served by the rules in place, it rather gives the impression of staying afloat.

After 40 games, the Canadiens are five points ahead of last year’s performance at this point, thanks to one win and three more overtime losses.

Is there a progression there? In a way, yes. But some nights, like Wednesday in Philadelphia, it seems more like an impression, even an illusion.