In a way, the Montreal Canadiens' winning streak coming to an end was great news.
First off, it was clear the players and the coach alike were sick of discussing the perfect record. And that's completely fair. For the media and fans it creates a fantastic story, but the reality is it added an unneeded layer of pressure, and led to inflated expectations for the team.
The undefeated start also meant that Michel Therrien couldn't justify any roster changes, which of course meant that both Jarred Tinordi and Greg Pateryn rusted away in the press box.
With the first loss out of the way, the possibility of modifying the roster now opens up, and the opportunity to get those young defenders some ice time finally presents itself.
I don't think Therrien would risk inserting both players in the lineup for the first time this season during the same game, which means that we're probably more likely to see them get their chance during different games.
If they were to slot into the lineup, who would they replace?
Alexei Emelin, right?
Not so fast.
Emelin is currently leading all Habs defenders in terms of Corsi-for, at 54.64%. His defensive partner, Jeff Petry, is in hot pursuit, with an equally impressive 54.48%. It's also worth noting that they've been on the ice for exactly one goal against during five-versus-five play so far this season, amounting to 0.35 goals against per 60 minutes of time on ice.
It's a small sample size, and obviously Petry has had a fantastic effect on Emelin this season, but the fact of the matter is that the second pairing is helping the Canadiens win games, and therefore shouldn't be broken up for the time being.
You also can't touch the top pairing of P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov, with both sitting atop the scoring race among defencemen, which leaves us with the third pairing of Tom Gilbert and Nathan Beaulieu.
Of course, they don't have the benefit of playing behind Montreal's top forward lines, but such is the cross that most third pairings have to bear.
(CF% = Corsi for %, ZSO% Rel = Fraction of offensive starts vs defensive starts relative to the team, SF60 = shots for per 60, SA60 = shots against per 60, SF% = shots for %, GF60 = goals for per 60, GA60 = goals against per 60, SCF% = on ice scoring chances for percentage. All stats 5 vs 5 via war-on-ice.com)
They haven't been terrible, but when it comes down to it you really can't justify removing anyone else from the defensive lineup.
All that is to say: don't be surprised if Beaulieu sits for Tinordi sometime in the next few games. The same situation may take place with Pateryn replacing Gilbert.
Both Tinordi and Pateryn need to play at some point this year, and the western road trip presents a perfect opportunity to re-insert them into the lineup.