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The Canadiens went into San Jose for part of a four-game road trip to the Pacific coast. They played a great team game and scored three goals in the opening 40 minutes — one of their highest totals all season — then desperately clung to Jake Allen during the Sharks’ third-period frenzy to come away with the shutout victory. The Habs put in the work to slay their dragon, breaking a streak of 22 years of losing to San Jose in its own arena.
And it still ended up being another disastrous West Coast road trip.
Outside of that one game, the other three versus the Seattle Kraken, Los Angeles Kings, and Anaheim Ducks saw Montreal score a total of five goals, continuing the low-scoring ways in the opening month of the season.
Their only other contest with more than two goals was against the Detroit Red Wings in the final game before the trip, and the players will have to be relieved to see them waiting at the Bell Centre again tonight.
Tale of the Tape
|47.2% (24th)||Scoring-chances-for %||45.5% (27th)|
|1.90 (30th)||Goals per game||3.22 (11th)|
|3.40 (28th)||Goals against per game||3.44 (30th)|
|11.1% (29th)||PP%||15.2% (25th)|
|65.0% (30th)||PK%||73.5% (24th)|
On the personnel side, things are looking a lot different from that game 10 days ago. Cole Caufield had been really struggling on the offensive side, never sure whether to pass or shoot the puck, and he was reassigned to Laval to regain the confidence he showed all throughout the 2020-21 season. Mathieu Perreault was the star of the night versus Detroit with a hat trick, but he’s since sustained a detached retina and will miss time as he recpvers from a corrective procedure. Another of the bottom-six centres, Cédric Paquette, took himself out of action with a boarding penalty that not only cut his afternoon short on Sunday, but will cost him his salary for the next two games with a suspension. Even the promise of Joel Edmundson’s imminent return to the lineup was broken by a setback in his preparations, and he’s been ruled out for another 10 to 14 days.
The only good news from Sunday’s game in Anaheim was the play of Jake Evans, drawing back into the lineup after dealing with an injury. Once Paquette was told to leave, Dominique Ducharme put Evans between Artturi Lehkonen and Joel Armia, and they were able to put some great shifts together, with rare cycles in the offensive zone and won board battles to set up plays. It’s an element the team hasn’t been showing much this year, and the trio’s goal to tie the game in the second period proved how effective that style can be.
To that end, Marc Bergevin has decided to bring up the top energy player from the AHL, Michael Pezzetta. The GM has obviously been as frustrated as all of us by his team’s general lack of effort this season. Is Pezzetta going to single-handedly solve the offensive issues? Probably not. Is he going to inspire his teammates and bring some life to how ever many fans decide to attend the game in person tomorrow? That is a given, so long as he toes the line Paquette crossed in the last game.
The Red Wings will be eager to respond to their loss in Montreal. It stands as their worst defeat in what has been a good start for the club this year. They followed that 6-1 game with a win over Chicago and an overtime victory versus Washington before an overtime loss to the Atlantic-leading Florida Panthers, finishing on the wrong side of a 5-4 decision in Toronto. Their schedule doesn’t get much easier in November, so they’ll want to set the tone from the outset.
Once again they’ll be trying to do that without the unvaccinated Tyler Bertuzzi. Detroit hasn’t won a game yet in Canada without him, and it will always be a challenge to get the best result without the top player in the lineup, but their four-goal game in Toronto proves they can compensate. There are still Dylan Larkin and rookies Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider to contend with, and they’re going to pose anothe challenge to Montreal’s beleaguered defence corps.