There are a ton of questions facing the Montreal Canadiens right now, and across the board there haven’t been very many answers for any of them. One of the potential solutions most certainly is not Cédric Paquette.
Paquette was brought in to bring a physical edge and veteran intangibles on the Canadiens’ fourth line. He’s brought the physicality, and so far none of it has been good. Against the Anaheim Ducks, Paquette took a massive run at Trevor Zegras that resulted in a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct. The Ducks then scored on that power play, and eventually went on to win 4-2 as the Canadiens played with a short bench for the rest of the game.
For his hit, Paquette was handed a two-game suspension, allowing Adam Brooks to rejoin the starting lineup. Once Paquette’s suspension was over, he was immediately right back in the lineup against Vegas.
One would think that Paquette took those two games to reasses how he approaches games and might try to keep the infractions down to a minimum. Well, you’d have thought wrong in that case.
After Ben Chiarot’s delay-of-game penalty gave Vegas their first power-play goal of the season, and a dose of momentum, the Habs then also gave up a goal to Jonathan Marchessault to blow a two-goal lead, despite a massive shot advantage.
Paquette, just 17 seconds after that goal, was called for a blatant cross-check in the offensive zone, and put Vegas back on the power play with the momentum fully behind them. Vegas then scored their second power-play goal of the season, and it went on to stand as the game-winner on the night.
So the question now becomes: Why is Paquette immune from the press box?
It’s one thing to be a guy with low offensive output, it’s another to be that guy and do things that are actively costing your team goals and games. Paquette was always a fringe off-season signing, and shouldn’t be having this sort of affect on games. If the Canadiens are serious about trying to turn this listing ship around, they need to start by choosing the best options at each position in the lineup.
Ryan Poehling appears to be recovered from his early-season injury. Laurent Dauphin is one of the top goal-scorers in the AHL right now. Either would be a welcome change in the Canadiens’ bottom six.
I don’t know if Dominique Ducharme is seeing something in Paquette that no one else is, but at this point the centreman isn’t doing anything to help win games.