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The Canadiens are finding offence more easily, even in big losses

Even when they lose big, the Habs are finding ways to get the puck in the net more than they used to.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Florida Panthers Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens and Florida Panthers turned in one of the crazier barn burners you’ll see in the NHL this season. With 10 first-period goals, two goaltending changes for the Habs alone, and some patently hilarious officiating, it had everything from an entertainment standpoint.

And with the whole of this season being a learning process for much of the Canadiens roster, a very encouraging development is how easily they’re finding offense even in games where they’re outgunned.

It only took them one shot against the Panthers to find some on Thursday night.

Matheson activates at the perfect moment here. He recognizes the left side is virtually uncovered by the Panthers, and kicks into high gear immediately. His recognition and anticipation are a big part of this play, but it is refreshing to see a defenseman of his skill getting the green light to try this in transition.

Puck support in transition was woefully lacking last year, and we’re seeing a much more active defensive corps helping in transition this year, albeit with varying degrees of success. They appear much more active this year, which is a great trend we can hope to see continue through to the other side of the team’s rebuild.

They also managed a goal off a pretty set play following an offensive zone draw.

They have undoubtedly rehearsed this exact play many times in practice. Rafael Harvey-Pinard plays it perfectly, tapping it back to the outside before readjusting into the slot in preparation for the Justin Barron shot he knows is coming. In just a few quick seconds, they turned a draw into a goal, which again, is not something you saw a whole lot of from this team last year.

They also required a little puck luck on Thursday — Michael Pezzetta’s goal comes to mind as one that wasn’t exactly replicable — but for the most part it was sound hockey getting it done. Tanking is a heck of a lot more bearable as a fan when your team is doing it without being shut out or held to one goal on a regular basis.

Even during their recent seven-game losing streak, only once in that span did they score less than three goals. Finding scoring, even in some of their toughest games to watch, hasn’t been much of an issue for this team. It is a highly encouraging development when you consider how finding three goals in a given game was akin to solving a Diophantine Equation at times last season.

The next puzzle they’ll need to solve — one that has been considerably more challenging for them this year — is how to prevent goals in their own end.

Bottom Six Minutes!

Do I ever have an episode for you this time. After such a wild game, I’m focusing mostly on the ridiculous nature of the game itself, as well as some of the absurd officiating that came with it. If you’ve never listened to an episode before, this would be the one to try out.

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