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2024 got off to a much better start compared to how 2023 finished for the Habs as they picked up a pair of victories against two of the stronger teams in the NHL, sandwiching a tough outing against Buffalo.

The Week That Was

Jan. 2: Canadiens 4, Stars 3 – The game couldn’t have started much worse for Montreal as just 11 seconds in, a turnover had them trailing.  But, to their credit, Montreal didn’t wilt and pushed their way with four goals, taking advantage of Scott Wedgewood not having his best performance.  However, their defensive structure fell apart in the final few minutes as Dallas pulled Wedgewood early.  The Stars scored twice with their net empty and could have easily scored again but Montreal just managed to hold on.

Jan. 4: Sabres 6, Canadiens 1 –  Buffalo’s power play got them a pair of goals in the second but also cost them one with Joel Armia (who had a goal called back earlier) notching a shorthanded marker.  But things went completely off the rails in the third with some poor defence leading to Jake Allen getting hung out to try far too often and a score that didn’t quite reflect what actually happened for most of the game.

Jan. 6: Canadiens 4, Rangers 3 (SO) – With New York being the top team in the Metropolitan Division, expectations were pretty low heading into this one.  But Montreal managed to score three times on their first nine shots of the game to give them a surprising lead before the three-minute mark of the second.  But the Rangers are where they are for a reason and slowly but surely, they tied it up.  The Habs had several occasions to beat Jonathan Quick once more in regulation but their shots drew iron or just missed the net.  However, after Samuel Montembeault made two game-saving stops late in overtime, Cole Caufield notched the shootout winner.



# Player GP G A +/- PIMS SOG ATOI
8 Mike Matheson 3 0 0 -2 2 8 22:46
11 Brendan Gallagher 3 1 0 -2 0 4 15:19
13 Mitchell Stephens 3 0 1 -1 2 0 10:54
14 Nick Suzuki 3 1 1 -1 2 5 22:40
17 Josh Anderson 3 0 0 -1 2 6 16:09
20 Juraj Slafkovsky 3 0 1 -1 0 4 19:28
21 Kaiden Guhle 3 1 0 -1 4 2 18:44
22 Cole Caufield 3 1 0 E 0 10 19:52
26 Johnathan Kovacevic 2 0 1 +1 0 2 10:20
40 Joel Armia 3 2 0 E 2 7 13:57
47 Jayden Struble 3 0 0 +1 0 2 18:49
51 Emil Heineman 1 0 0 E 0 0 11:31
52 Justin Barron 3 0 0 -1 0 5 15:43
54 Jordan Harris 3 1 1 +1 0 3 15:32
55 Michael Pezzetta 3 0 2 E 2 4 9:45
56 Jesse Ylonen 3 0 1 -2 0 7 13:23
58 David Savard 3 0 1 -4 4 3 18:58
71 Jake Evans 3 0 1 -1 0 1 18:30
91 Sean Monahan 3 1 1 -3 0 8 19:37


# Player Record GAA SV% SO
34 Jake Allen 0-1-0 5.05 .865 0
35 Samuel Montembeault 2-0-0 2.88 .926 0

Shootout – Skaters:

# Player G/ATT
14 Nick Suzuki 0/1
22 Cole Caufield 1/1
56 Jesse Ylonen 0/1

Shootout – Goalies:

# Player SVS/SF
35 Samuel Montembeault 3/3

Team Leaders:

Goals: Nick Suzuki (12)
Assists: Nick Suzuki (22)
Points: Nick Suzuki (34)
+/-: Johnathan Kovacevic (+6)
PIMS: Arber Xhekaj (47)
Shots: Cole Caufield (138)

News And Notes

– For the second straight season, Christian Dvorak’s year has come to an early end, this time due to a torn pectoral muscle.  His campaign ends with just seven points in 25 games although he was winning faceoffs at a 59.9% clip.

– Emil Heineman was recalled from Laval to take Dvorak’s roster spot after the Habs placed him on injured reserve.  With two extra defencemen and an extra goalie, the Habs can only carry the minimum of 12 forwards for the time being.

– Brendan Gallagher’s goal against the Rangers snapped a 24-game goalless streak.

Last Game’s Lines:

Caufield – Suzuki – Slafkovsky
Gallagher – Evans – Anderson
Heineman – Monahan – Ylonen
Pezzetta – Stephens – Armia

Matheson – Savard
Guhle – Barron
Struble – Harris

The Week Ahead

Wednesday at Philadelphia – The Flyers have been one of the bigger surprises in the East this season as a team that everyone expected to be rebuilding is holding down the third spot in the Metropolitan.  The return of Sean Couturier certainly helped stabilize things while Travis Sanheim is having a bounce-back year on the back end.  If he plays, keep an eye on Morgan Frost, a speculative trade target for the Habs as he has seemingly fallen out of favour with John Tortorella but fits Kent Hughes’ preferred criteria of being a recent first-rounder with the potential to contribute more in the right situation.

Thursday vs San Jose – The Sharks have been as bad as expected, boasting both the worst offence in the NHL and the worst defence from a goals allowed perspective.  They might have Logan Couture back by this game which could only help stabilize their top six.  But their back end is largely inexperienced (almost as much as Montreal’s was last season) so if the Habs put their best foot forward, they should come out with a win.

Saturday vs Edmonton – After a rough start, the Oilers have really come around lately while getting some stable goaltending to lessen their potential need to go after Jake Allen.  Zach Hyman has become their top sniper, reaching the 25-goal mark already; no one else on Edmonton is at 20.  Former Hab Brett Kulak is having a particularly quiet season, notching just four points in 36 games while averaging less than 15 minutes a night.

Final Thought

Fan voting for the fiasco known as the NHL All-Star Game is now underway with the Habs encouraging fans to vote for their favourite Montreal players to attend.  But they’re pretty much obligated to do that, even if they’d much rather have no one else go.  (And believe me, they’d rather not have anyone else make it.)

This event is one that most players have no desire to go to as they’d much rather have time with their families and to rest any lingering injuries.  As a fan, I’d rather the players get that time than skate in a glorified meaningless game of three-on-three shinny played at half-speed in a contest that will clearly be missing many of the top players as it is thanks to their obsession with having representatives from all 32 teams and as few defencemen as possible. 

So, rather than annoy them by making them go somewhere they probably don’t want to be, do what’s actually in the best interest of the Habs and make sure to vote for other players entirely.  Even though it seems backwards, in the long run, you’d be doing their players a favour.