Montreal Canadiens: Last Place Team Just Got Humbled, If That’s Even Possible

Jan 17, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Montreal Canadiens. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 17, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Montreal Canadiens. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

The Montreal Canadiens sit in the bottom of the NHL standings as we approach the midway point of the season.

Though the Habs are the last place team in the standings, I think we all believe they are actually better than this. They can’t really be the worst built roster in the entire National Hockey League. Right? Maybe they aren’t great, and are a long way from the Stanley Cup Final run from last year, but injuries and Covid outbreaks played a part in them falling to last place overall.

Didn’t it? Shouldn’t they be more middle of the pack?

I certainly thought so, at least until yesterday. The Canadiens took on the Arizona Coyotes who everyone picked to be the worst team in the league this season. In the last offseason, the Coyotes traded away Conor Garland, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Christian Dvorak, and Darcy Kuemper. Alex Goligoski, Michael Bunting, Derick Brassard and Tyler Pitlick left as free agents. Niklas Hjalmarsson retired.

They were replaced by a bunch of overpaid veterans like Andrew Ladd, Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle and Loui Eriksson just so they could get to the minimum salary requirements.

The Coyotes were built to be bad. And they’ve done a good job at it.

They entered yesterday’s contest with the Canadiens sitting on a 8-24-4 record. In the same number of games, they were one point ahead of the Habs who sat last in the NHL.

But the Habs didn’t really belong that far down the standings. Right? This level of ineptitude isn’t going to last.

Well, the Canadiens didn’t just look like the worse of the two cellar dwellers last night, they were lagging behind by a wide margin.

The Coyotes thoroughly dominated the Canadiens, really emphasizing the fact the Habs are right where they belong in the NHL standings.

Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz combined to set up Travis Boyd early in the first and when Phil Kessel found Johan Larsson with a nice cross-ice pass just over eight minutes into the game, it was 2-0 Arizona. The Habs pulled within once but a Janis Moser goal made it 3-1. Ryan Poehling pulled the Habs within one again but  Schmaltz scored to give the Coyotes a two goal advantage heading into the third period.

Down by two to the (second) worst team in the league, you would expect the Canadiens to come out flying in the final 20 minuets, applying all kinds of pressure in an effort to tie the game.

Instead, they were not able to muster much offence at all. In fact, they barely got the puck on net in the first half of the third period at all. They looked lifeless, incapable of keeping up or competing with the worst built team in the entire league.

I though all along this season that this team was just a bit off, and they should be much, much better. But last night’s game showed they aren’t even on the same level as the Arizona Coyotes.

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