Canadiens vs. Hurricanes 5 Takeaways: Another uninspired effort in Carolina

By definition this was a hockey game, that’s about it.

1. Paul Byron, the every man

I was extremely skeptical of Paul Byron being moved to centre when Phillip Danault went down with an injury. I would still rather be playing Alex Galchenyuk there. As it stands, however, since his promotion to centre on the Canadiens top line, Byron has been able to perform well in his new role. Paired with Max Pacioretty and Charles Hudon, they were the only line to seemingly generate much on the offensive side of the puck.

I’m not sure if it’s his speed, or just his timely ability to be in the right space, but his partnership with Pacioretty has brought out the best of the captain’s game as of late and is one of the few positive things happening for the organization at the NHL level. He might have split face-off duties with Hudon, but the point remains the same: that he’s helping as much as he can right now, which is a gargantuan task for any player.

He’s likely not going to be playing down the middle when the team is healthy, but if he can contribute like he has in recent games, then maybe things won’t be so bad down the middle in future seasons.

2. Taxi for Jordie Benn

Last year Jordie Benn was a stable, reliable option for Claude Julien to mix into his bottom defence pairings. This year, Benn had a rough start to the season, seemingly leveled things out and was a decent option once again. Then before their last game against St. Louis, Julien called out the veteran defender, saying that he needs to be better and it’s hard to disagree.

Fast forward to Thursday night and Benn found his way onto the highlights for all the wrong reasons. He stepped up for hits at his own blueline, and instead put himself out of position. He also mistimed a rush and gave the slick Sebastian Aho a golden chance for a goal. Perhaps worst of all was Benn being beaten by Jaccob Slavin, and cross checking him straight into Carey Price in a scary collision, earning a penalty in the process.

I’d like to scream from the top of every building by the Bell Centre that Victor Mete needs to play more. He’s dynamic and can jump in on plays without taking himself out of his defensive range as well. Failing that, why not give Noah Juulsen a look and see what he can do?

It’s not like this season can get much worse.

3. No man is an island, except Jeff Petry

Shea Weber being injured is a massive blow to the Canadiens, there’s no way around it. It has, however, had an unexpected benefit. Jeff Petry’s game has found a new height in the past few weeks, and he’s playing like a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

And he’s thriving in it.

He’s highly involved in the rush, carrying pucks in deep and creating chances below the opposing goal line. It’s not a coincidence that the best chances the Habs get in a given game come from Petry and, to an extent, Victor Mete getting involved with the play deep in the offensive zone.

That’s a lot of the issue with the team right now, only one or two guys are carrying play from the back end and the offence is stagnating. The modern NHL requires you to have the ability to move and distribute the puck from anywhere on the ice. While Karl Alzner might be playing better in his own end of late, he still can’t start the rush by himself or jump in the slot for a one timer and the same goes for Benn.

4. Fear and Loathing in La Belle Province

The upcoming Canadiens schedule is a mix of potential games where they should win, or at least be competitive, like against the Senators and Flyers. Then there are games against the Predators and Ducks where it feels almost inevitable that the Canadiens could be blown out of the building within 20 minutes.

If the season is going into the tank even further, it’d be preferable that the team at least looks competitive going forward. Sure they could lose 3-1, but if they at least play tough and have moments that actually stand out it’s a positive thing. Watching a team look lifeless like they did in Carolina may be good for something, however. It’s going to force Marc Bergevin to answer for his off-season that is currently imploding in his face.

The fear, however, is that the team will flounder, sell off actual good assets in a fire sale and be no better off in the future. But we’ll cross that bridge when the deadline comes.

5. Where the sidewalk ends

Blow it up, fire someone, trade players, for the love of God do something. This team is a shambling corpse of a reanimated body that’s been left to rot in the sun for too long. It’s dreadful to watch, if you’re going to lose at least lose in a fashion like the previous Hurricanes game and make it worth tuning into.

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