Montreal Canadiens: Looking For Positives To Build On After Bad Start

Montreal Canadiens Jonathan Drouin (92) Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Montreal Canadiens Jonathan Drouin (92) Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

The Montreal Canadiens are looking for positives to build on after a 1-3 western road trip. Playing the Anaheim Ducks on Halloween Sunday in the second half of a pair of back to back California matinees, the team needed a stronger defensive effort than in their 5-2 loss to the Kings 24 hours earlier.

The Canadiens competed with a more structured, supportive game in all zones on Sunday, doing a better job of closing off their blue line against the rush, and getting into shooting lanes more quickly and effectively. They were in this one until late in the 3rd period before eventually losing 4-2 to the Ducks.

Sam Montembeault battled in the crease all night, making quality saves at key moments in the game and gave Montreal a chance to win in only his second game of the season.

Chris Wideman played in place of Sam Niku and provided a reliable defensive option along with obvious offensive skills. He made good decisions with and without the puck, utilizing smart body positioning to make safe plays, and made a perfect pass on the power play to set up Mike Hoffman’s team leading 4th goal of the season in the first period.

Missing Brendan Gallagher due to injury, Jake Evans was in the lineup and also made a strong case to stay. Noticeable on the ice all afternoon, his play in the defensive zone helped Montreal’s transition game. Despite surrendering two power play goals on the night, the Canadiens penalty kill looked better with the addition of Evans’ speed and tenacity. He injected much needed energy into the lineup, and was rewarded for his hard work when he scored on a rebound because of his willingness to get to the net.

Jonathan Drouin continues to be the feel good story in this difficult Habs season thus far.  Drouin now leads the team with 7 points in 10 games as he drew another assist by winning the offensive zone face-off that lead directly to the Hoffman power play goal in the first period.

He is the Canadiens best passer, is shooting the puck more this year and playing with intensity. The line of Christian Dvorak, Josh Anderson and Drouin looked dangerous all game as the Canadiens displayed a more determined effort in yet another loss in a Halloween matinee in Anaheim.