When the Montreal Canadiens went up 4-0 in the first period against the Vancouver Canucks, it felt like a blowout win was on the way. Nothing they did could go wrong, their goaltender had given them big saves, and every scoring chance seemed to go in. Everything was coming up Milhouse in the first 20 minutes of play.
But then came the next 40 minutes, in which the Habs learned that sitting on a lead is a very dangerous game, no matter that lead’s size.
Samuel Montembeault has bailed them out too many times this season. In the first period, it seemed like he was poised to do exactly that, until the floodgates opened in the Vancouver zone. After that period ended, he went back to being human, and the Habs simply weren’t playing well enough for a human goaltender to save them.
Montembeault came to play, yet again. pic.twitter.com/QgIq26DKJe— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) December 6, 2022
That isn’t a slight against Montembeault, but one against the Habs themselves. It should be possible for most teams — even bad ones — to hold a four-goal lead, but they managed to blow it. Keeping their foot on the gas could have avoided that, and while the loss stings, it could serve as a very valuable lesson for the club in their rebuild.
A lesson that they can’ expect their goaltender to hold leads for them. The organization was guilty of this for years with Carey Price between the pipes, and they never addressed it. Sure, they scored six goals against Vancouver, but with better defensive play, it would have been more than enough with how Montembeault played.
They banked on their goaltender bailing them out in the Price era. They can do that no longer, and better they figure that out this year than waiting until they’re closer to the real dance. As fun as it has been watching Montembeault steal games, they needed to learn from a game like this where he couldn’t.
Hopefully, the lessons they learned can be applied quickly, as they’ve got another game to play tonight.
Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available wherever you typically get your podcasts. Quick turnaround this time, as we’ll be right back at it tonight at 10PM EST when the Habs take on Shane Wright and the Seattle Kraken.