Montreal Canadiens: Moral victories won’t cut it anymore

The Montreal Canadiens ended 2019 with another loss and playing a decent defensive game isn’t enough to shake the negativity from it.

Claude Julien made it clear that the Montreal Canadiens needed to go back to boring hockey to get results. Perhaps the coaching staff would’ve seen more of that in their last game of the year against the Carolina Hurricanes. In all honesty, the Habs did have a better performance. Officiating, unfortunately, got in the way of a couple of big plays and cost the Canadiens another two points.

Phillip Danault being taken down on a breakaway with no call is one thing. Still, the goaltender interference call on Ryan Poehling‘s tally is a clear example of how messy coach’s challenges have made things in the NHL. Danault does fall into Petr Mrazek, but Brett Pesce initiates contact with him. Usually, own teammate incidences are taken into account. Yet, the video review didn’t seem to find enough to shift the blame off Danault.

That play hurt the Montreal Canadiens’ chances to win the game as Poehling would’ve otherwise tied things up and at least force overtime for a point. As frustrating as that whole ordeal is, the Habs are way too deep to shrug shoulders at this result.

Carolina had the edge on them in shots at 5v5, getting 29 to Montreal’s 15, had the majority of the high-danger chances (17 vs. 7) and completely dominated the Habs in the third period holding them to only one shot. The Habs had their time to shine in the second period as they controlled the majority of play in the middle frame.

The team also got great performances from Max Domi and Charlie Lindgren, who did his best to give the Habs a chance to win despite spending a lot of time on the sidelines.

Julien may be satisfied with how the team played tonight saying:

It was tighter defensively, and then they’re a team that’s pretty good offensively too. They throw a lot of pucks at the net and they crash the front of the net and battle for loose pucks. So I think we did a decent job here tonight in that area.

However, it’s tough to look at those numbers, as well as the standings, and be satisfied with what happened.

Tampa Bay is back in a playoff spot for the first time this season after their 6-4 win over the Buffalo Sabres. To make matters worse, they still have two games in hand over the Montreal Canadiens.

The Florida Panthers lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 but are only back of the Lightning by a single point while being up on Montreal by three.

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It’s crunch time for the Habs, and regardless of the means, they need points. The team comes back again Thursday to take on the Lightning, which needs to be a regulation win and at the very least, if it’s a loss, make it one in overtime. Montreal needs to start accumulating points in any fashion and can’t afford to continue to fall back.

Acknowledgements: Advanced stats from Natural Stat Trick

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