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Bottom Six Minutes: Tanks the season

The Canadiens can’t win without their top line intact, and as long as it isn’t, they give the appearance of tanking.

NHL: DEC 23 Canadiens at Stars Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Montreal Canadiens managed to lose rather handily against the Dallas Stars on Friday night, entering their short holiday break on a low note. Despite opening a two-goal lead, they put forth an embarrassing display thereafter, not only letting the Stars back in the game, but letting them win it in regulation.

As long as the Habs continue to neuter their top line, they give the appearance of a team that is tanking.

They looked like a lottery team for the better part of 60 minutes, gaining a two-goal advantage on the back of their bottom-six, before surrendering four goals en route to a loss. Even as they earned their two-goal lead, it felt inevitable that said lead would melt away. They say that two-goal leads are the worst in hockey, and this one felt like it was a snowball made in hell.

One of the biggest issues appeared once again to be the separation of the top line. Tank nation can celebrate this one, because while the team finally got production out of its bottom-six, the usual suspects of stolen games were quiet. As tends to be the case, a game where Kirby Dach doesn’t play with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield ended in disappointment.

When these three don’t produce, the team tends to lose. As such, any time the coaching staff separates them, it feels like tanking. If that is their intent, it is working. If it isn’t, there is a more difficult conversation to be had.

I don’t believe that Martin St-Louis’s Canadiens are intentionally losing, but some of their lineup decisions suggest that they are. If they continue to keep that top trio apart, regardless of intent, they might find themselves in a great draft lottery position.

I suppose Connor Bedard isn’t the worst prize for not trying.

Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available wherever you get your podcasts. Happy holidays to you all, and we’ll be back next Wednesday when the Canadiens hit the road in Florida again to face the Tampa Bay Lightning.