The sun is setting on this disappointment of a season for the Montreal Canadiens. Saturday night presented an opportunity for them to face another struggling team as they travelled down the highway to Ottawa where the Senators awaited them.
The Habs would have better odds at making the playoffs this year than finishing below the Sens in the standings. Since the playoff odds are virtually insurmountable, this meeting was of two teams in the process of rebuilding, retooling, or whatever synonym one feels could best describe their respective situations.
Both teams are expected to be sellers as this coming Monday’s trade deadline approaches. A number of scouts were in house for the game, as there were quite a few players in action who have been rumoured to be on the trade block.
One of the names that has been thrown around as a potential trade target of late is Max Domi. He got off to a great start by getting in alone on Craig Anderson, and stickhandling around him to make it 1-0 for the Habs less than two minutes into the game.
And Domi wasn’t done there, as he’d make it 2-0 by firing home a puck that Anderson accidentally cleared right to him near the faceoff dot.
In the second period, the Senators began to push back a little, and it was looking like yet another Habs lead was unsafe to say the least. But Ilya Kovalchuk won a quick battle in the corner, and Paul Byron was waiting in the high slot to make it 3-0.
And that was all she wrote. Carey Price made 30 saves, and though these Habs have been horrendous at holding leads, their goaltender made sure that three goals was more than enough in Ottawa. It won’t help the team’s lottery odds, but
The Canadiens will return home to Montreal for their next game against the Canucks on Tuesday, February 25. Since the trade deadline is the day before, there is a good chance the lineup will look a little different when that time comes.
- Carey Price didn’t have to stand on his head for the shutout, but he was excellent. I’d rather watch the Leafs win the cup than talk about trading Price, so I won’t, but I’d bet it has been discussed. Last night, he showed exactly why he’s still viewed by NHL players as one of the best in the game.
- The same Colorado Avalanche scout that travelled to the Habs game against the Capitals was in Ottawa, according to Eric Engels. The general consensus seems to be that they would be interested in the services of Tomas Tatar, but there definitely seems to be something up with Montreal and Colorado, so it’s something worth following in these final two days before the trade market closes.
- Speaking of Tatar, he had a quiet night despite the presumption that many eyes were on him. I don’t think it will hurt his value — he looked good despite not finding the score sheet — so he’ll still have a lot of attention on him until Monday is over. It will be unfortunate to see him go, but I firmly believe he’s going to get a shot at playoff hockey somewhere else.
- Paul Byron, on the other hand, did not have a quiet night. Considering how many games he missed due to injury this year, it isn’t shocking that he hasn’t been mentioned as much as others when it comes to trade speculation. But with a goal and an assist last night, he just might slide onto the radar in the next 24 hours. He’s an incredibly fast player that could benefit a bubble team in need of a bit more offensive punch. If the Canadiens don’t see him as a part of their long term plan, he could be on the move as well.
- Max Domi did not have a quiet night either. He was on a pretty significant scoring slump, but he busted that slump at the perfect time for speculation to run rampant. If any teams were sniffing around about his availability, he would have at least solidified their interest on Saturday night. I personally don’t think the Habs should trade Domi, but given their position, they have to listen to the offers that will probably be coming.
- The last mention goes to Karl Alzner. He didn’t find the score sheet, but he did manage a 65.22% corsi-for at five-on-five. He played well. His contract may be an immovable object, but it would be quite the coup for Marc Bergevin if he found a team willing to take it on.