With three games remaining, the Montreal Canadiens are currently in 32nd and last place in the entire National Hockey League. They can no longer finish any better than 31st, which guarantees them a top-four pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.
That, essentially, is all there is to play for in the 2021-22 season, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything else to watch for in the final three games. In fact, I am looking at this as the pre-pre-season for the 2022-23 season. The most important thing is for the key parts of the Montreal Canadiens team to finish the season healthy, possibly get a chance at the upcoming World Championships, and have a full off-season ahead of them.
Other players are leaving their business card on the table for training camp in 2022. It’s a final chance to make an impression to either be brought back to camp next year, or to stake claim to the inside track for a roster spot.
By extension, since it’s a pre-season mentality, I don’t really care about Carey Price’s play. Has he struggled in his last two games? Yes, without a doubt. It doesn’t bother me, however, because you can still count the games he has played this season on one hand. The most important things for Price is to get some game action to feel confident that his body has recovered, and to stay healthy so that he has a normal off-season.
To quote him from pre-seasons long ago: Relax. Chill out.
The key parts of the Canadiens management team is in Germany for the IIHF Under-18 World Championships which is a pretty good indicator of where the team’s priorities are right now. Martin St. Louis and Kent Hughes have been playing this game where they both say the decision on whether St. Louis will be back as head coach is up to the other person, which means he’ll likely be back.
While St. Louis’s coaching in-game is focused on the game at hand, these games are a way to evaluate everything going into what should be his first training camp as the team’s head coach.