The Montreal Canadiens have had the most success they have had this season since Martin St. Louis became the team’s interim head coach, and even in games they lose there are a lot more positives to take.
On Saturday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Seattle Kraken at the Bell Centre, a loss to the second-worst team in the league, it was a reminder of how much there still is to do.
Despite the positive trends, including a 7-2-1 record in their last 10 games, the Canadiens are still last in the entire NHL by both points and points percentage. The power play is still very messy, the defence is still a work in progress, and the roster needs at least a touch up at essentially every position.
The team is getting healthy, which is a good thing. The team is currently well on their way to a top-five pick in the upcoming draft, which should help the team’s long-term objectives as well.
Joel Edmundson being back around the team and in the room fills a void both on and off the ice. Jake Allen is approaching a return, as are Christian Dvorak and Jonathan Drouin. This will provide the team with more data to decide who will be a part of the long-term vision of the franchise under new management as we head into the off-season.
The wins the team have been getting is a good thing, but the more important thing that is happening is the steps forward by key players. Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield playing their best hockey of the season is the most positive aspect of this entire season. Alexander Romanov had a two-point game in the loss, and seeing him more involved in that part of the game is a positive development.
The Canadiens likely won’t be getting any major changes ahead of the March 21 trade deadline, but we will get some clarity. On top of that, players leaving the organization will provide NHL opportunities for others.
With 24 games to go, everything should be focused on building for next season and beyond. Sure, there might be an improvement in the results like we have already seen, but that’s very much secondary. Players who aren’t part of the team’s long-term plans should no longer be part of the present.
The team’s poor start has made it so that even a stretch of seven wins in 10 games wasn’t enough to make a change in their standing. It’s also a metaphor for where they stand. The positive steps the team has taken is obviously a good thing, but losses to an expansion team and the team closest to you in the standings is a stark reminder of the work ahead.