In arguably their ugliest performance of the season to date, the Montreal Canadiens were manhandled by the Florida Panthers on Thursday night. It was a game that ideally, you can forget immediately and move forward. A game where fans were shown once again how far this team still has to go to complete their rebuild.
But it was also a game that ran concurrently with Canada’s World Junior outing, where Connor Bedard showed that the pain of losing could just be worth it.
Bedard has been magical at the tournament thus far, and while he didn’t need to be this good to solidify his draft ranking, I doubt that anyone in their right mind is penciling another name in that top spot. He’s now tied with Jordan Eberle for the most goals by a Canadian player at the world juniors. And he’s 17 years old. He’s the real deal.
Losing won’t guarantee that we ever see him in the Tricolore. This is why teams don’t actually tank — the draft lottery exists to remove the temptation to lose on purpose. Losing just increases their eventual odds in that lottery, and while losses of the 7-2 variety are incredibly difficult to watch, I feel like it’s a little easier to go to bed afterwards knowing that their chances have improved.
The Habs should continue to try and improve aspects of their game — namely, their power play, and their penalty kill that was beyond abysmal in Florida. They should keep trying things like the use of Arber Xhekaj on the power play. Keep trying things that can improve the team in the long run.
Seeing some improvement would at least make these games a little more watchable. But hey, if they keep losing, at least we know that lottery ticket is for one heck of a player this summer.
Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available on your podcast platform of choice. We have ourselves a day off coming out of the back-to-back, and will return this Saturday for an early game when the Habs visit the Washington Capitals.