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The Habs didn’t have anything to play for but pride over the final two games although they could have messed with Detroit’s playoff push.  In the end, the Red Wings didn’t make the postseason anyway while Montreal finished up the 2023-24 campaign with a pair of extra time losses.

The Week That Was

Apr. 15: Detroit 5, Montreal 4 (OT) – Considering one team had everything to play for and one didn’t, it was surprising to see the Habs get out to an early two-goal lead, the first goal coming off a setup from Lane Hutson on his second career shift.  They extended the lead to 4-1 with less than five minutes left in the second period and then went into a defensive shell that has rarely worked for them and didn’t here; Lucas Raymond tied it up with 77 seconds left in regulation.  In overtime, Detroit carried most of the play and was eventually rewarded with Raymond burying his second of the night to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Apr. 16: Detroit 5, Montreal 4 (SO) – Once again, it was the Canadiens who got the first goal of the game and then scored twice more in the second to have a multi-goal lead.  And once again, Detroit came back to tie it.  Juraj Slafkovsky got the lead back with a little over seven minutes left and you might have been thinking ‘they can’t blow it again, can they’?  Turns out they could and did with David Perron sending a point shot through a screen to tie it with just five seconds left.  While their playoff hopes were dashed partway through overtime, Patrick Kane had the only goal in the shootout to get them the extra point.



# Player GP G A +/- PIMS SOG ATOI
8 Mike Matheson 2 0 0 -1 0 5 26:24
11 Brendan Gallagher 2 3 1 E 0 7 14:06
14 Nick Suzuki 2 0 1 -2 0 3 22:50
15 Alex Newhook 2 1 0 E 0 6 15:27
17 Josh Anderson 2 0 1 +1 0 2 16:16
20 Juraj Slafkovsky 2 1 1 E 0 5 21:42
22 Cole Caufield 2 1 0 E 0 8 21:49
26 Johnathan Kovacevic 1 0 1 E 0 1 16:58
28 Christian Dvorak 2 0 0 -1 0 0 13:26
40 Joel Armia 2 0 1 -1 0 3 17:16
47 Jayden Struble 1 0 1 +1 0 1 15:07
48 Lane Hutson 2 0 2 -2 0 3 22:43
49 Rafael Harvey-Pinard 2 1 0 +1 0 2 15:48
52 Justin Barron 2 1 0 +2 0 3 17:56
54 Jordan Harris 1 0 0 -1 0 1 15:40
55 Michael Pezzetta 2 0 0 E 2 0 4:31
56 Jesse Ylonen 1 0 0 E 0 0 8:41
58 David Savard 2 0 2 -1 0 1 21:54
70 Tanner Pearson 1 0 0 -1 0 0 12:00
71 Jake Evans 2 0 3 +1 0 1 17:56
94 Logan Mailloux 1 0 1 +1 0 2 21:14


# Player Record GAA SV% SO
30 Cayden Primeau 0-0-1 3.69 .900 0
35 Samuel Montembeault 0-0-1 4.65 .857 0

Shootout – Skaters:

# Player G/ATT
14 Nick Suzuki 0/1
22 Cole Caufield 0/1
48 Lane Hutson 0/1

Shootout – Goalies:

# Player SVS/SF
30 Cayden Primeau 2/3

Team Leaders:

Goals: Nick Suzuki (33)
Assists: Mike Matheson (51)
Points: Nick Suzuki (76)
+/-: Johnathan Kovacevic (+11)
PIMS: Arber Xhekaj (81)
Shots: Cole Caufield (306)

News And Notes

– While it took a bit longer than expected, Luke Tuch signed his entry-level contract.  Notably, it didn’t burn the first season right away which is something I know I wasn’t expecting.

– Logan Mailloux was recalled from the Rocket for the final game of the season.  Like Hutson, he picked up an assist on the opening goal of the game.

– Joshua Roy was cleared to return and was assigned back to Laval along with Mailloux, Jayden Struble, and Justin Barron for their final two games.

Last Game’s Lines:

Caufield – Suzuki – Slafkovsky
Gallagher – Newhook – Armia
Harvey-Pinard – Evans – Anderson
Pezzetta – Dvorak – Pearson

Matheson – Mailloux
Hutson – Savard
Struble – Barron

Draft Lottery Odds

With no games on the schedule until the preseason, let’s look ahead to the next key important date on the schedule which is the Draft Lottery.  The actual date isn’t set yet but early speculation has it either on May 11th or 12th.  Montreal finished fifth-last in the standings for the second straight year, they can’t fall any further than seventh in the order.  Here are the odds of landing at each pick, courtesy of Tankathon:

1st: 8.5%
2nd: 8.6%
3rd: 0.3% (only if the 12th-place team wins the first lottery)
5th: 24.5%
Six: 44.0%
: 14.2%

(Pick odds listed by Tankathon are rounded to the nearest tenth and can add to a number slightly off 100%.  The above adds to 100.1% but it’s close enough to paint an accurate picture).

Last year, the Habs held serve with the fifth pick and selected David Reinbacher.  We’ll find out if history will repeat itself or if they’ll be picking from a different slot in the next couple of weeks.

Final Thought

During his end-of-season availability, Arber Xhekaj indicated that he had the shoulder injury (the one he just had surgery for) for most of the season and that he went out of his way to try to hide it from team doctors.  While not overly surprising – players often do this – it also underscores the challenges that Montreal’s medical team faces.  When a player is actively trying to conceal an injury, it’s difficult for the training staff to diagnose it.  Sometimes, it’s not a case of the trainers saying a player can play when he shouldn’t but rather the player going out of his way to hide something.  That’s a perspective to keep in mind when it comes to assessing the success of the training staff both past and present.

Meanwhile, for Xhekaj, the decision to do so is a bit surprising.  I get that he was worried about possibly losing his roster spot especially since he was sent down earlier in the season.  But his playing limited was only going to lower him to the level of the players he was trying to stay ahead of in the pecking order.  A pending restricted free agent, it’s not like gutting things out is going to materially affect his next contract; it was going to be a bridge deal before the injury and certainly will now.  Seems like one of those things that it’s a commendable effort, albeit not a very smart one.

The important thing for Xhekaj is that it’s not a recurrence of the shoulder injury he had last year which could have been an indicator of a longer-term problem.  But in this case, I’m not sure going out of his way to delay the inevitable actually accomplished anything in the end.