Sometimes, the Canadian reminds us that he is still far from the elite of the NHL. Saturday night was one of those times.
It would take an optimism worthy of Jacques Demers in the spring of 1993 to be able to find something good in this almost fatally boring game at the Bell Center, won by the Carolina Hurricanes, by a score of 3-0.
It’s one thing to lose. It’s a whole other thing to lose that way, never being able to touch the puck. At some point in third grade, a fan yelled “Lance!” from the heights, while no Canadian player was in possession of the puck. The irony was almost poetic.
By the way, we remember what was written on the shot board when the siren sounded at the end of the match: CAR 50, MTL 14.
That pretty much says it all.
“They dominated us in every facet of the game, and that’s not a good recipe for success,” Nick Suzuki said in a nutshell. We left Samuel [Montembeault] to fend for himself. It could have been even worse. »
It could have been worse, and it probably will be. Late in the evening, when there were quite a few empty stands, boos were heard at the Bell Center, a reminder that fans may not be as patient as we think. Tolerating such mediocrity is one thing, but paying for it? There are still limits.
“We were frustrated,” admitted coach Martin St-Louis. There was frustration, but we didn’t have enough gas in the tank to do anything about it. »
In front of his goal, Samuel Montembeault thought it was going a little fast.
“At times, it’s as if they had been six on the ice, illustrated the Quebec goalkeeper. We saw it throughout the game, we really didn’t get the puck very often.
“It’s a team that’s very good in puck possession. I was talking about it with Jake [Allen], and even me, out of the net, I think I touched the puck once or twice the whole game. They get to three very quickly, they do a lot of forechecks. »
If there is one good thing, perhaps, to remember from this very long evening, it is Montembeault himself, by far the best of his camp, and a young man who is in the process of imposing himself in this league. For a team that is not overflowing with talent in this position, this is good news.
We feel that Martin St-Louis is also eager for it to end.
As we all.
“The evaluation is almost over,” said the Montreal driver. There are, what, five games left? There isn’t much left to evaluate… I have a good idea. »
A game of 50 shots against him, and several big saves, including that of the mitt, without a stick and seated, at the end of the third period.
We expected him to fly over the ice when he returned to the game, but no, it did not happen.
It is the highest total of shots allowed by the Canadiens this season, and 14 is the lowest total of shots allowed by the club this season.
It’s almost become a tradition: at the very end of the evening, when the game and the press briefings were over, the Habs announced that a player’s season was over. This time it was the turn of David Savard, who, injured in the right knee, will have to skip the last five games of his team. The Quebecer therefore joins Cole Caufield, Christian Dvorak, Arber Xhekaj, Josh Anderson and Kaiden Guhle in the group of those who will not be seen in uniform in 2022-2023. We could theoretically add Juraj Slafkovsky and Sean Monahan to the list, but the team has yet to confirm the end of the programs in their case. Notice, it doesn’t change much at this point…
Did the Carolina Hurricanes exert the most dominance over the Canadiens all season? One of the biggest, for sure. In more than 1,200 games played in the NHL in 2022-2023, it has only happened twice that a team has framed fewer shots on goal than CH on Saturday (14). Also, according to the specialized site Natural Stat Trick, never before had a club obtained such a low proportion of five-on-five shot attempts – 23 against 72, or 24.2% of the total. This indicator, remember, gives an idea of the possession of the puck by one or the other of the teams. “That’s pretty much the most dominant we could be,” Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour said. We spent the game in their area. We didn’t create a lot of things on the counter-attack, but we didn’t need to. This is how we have to win games. »
A bit on the same theme, the defensive effort deployed by the Hurricanes commands admiration. Not just against the sad Canadian, but since the start of the season. No one concedes fewer shots per game in the NHL. Only the almighty Boston Bruins allow fewer goals and are more miserly on the penalty kill. The team has struggled to score since the loss of Andrei Svechnikov, but defensively this team is ready to attack the playoffs. “We’ve lost games recently, but our defensive game was still there,” Jordan Staal said after the game. By limiting any team to so few shots, you give yourself a chance to win. Tonight was no exception. Martin St-Louis also recalled that his troop had not been the only victim of the Hurricanes this season. “Whenever we had the chance to play games, we weren’t connected,” he said. It was one of those games where you didn’t touch the puck. It’s frustrating. »