Montreal Canadiens Loss In Arizona And Eyes On The Future

SECAUCUS, NEW JERSEY - JULY 23: Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
SECAUCUS, NEW JERSEY - JULY 23: Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Montreal Canadiens fans have long since given up on hopes that their team can repeat as Stanley Cup challengers this season. Just as new executive vice president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton is doing, we are focusing on analyzing every game with an eye to the future.

The big headline Tuesday morning was the announcement of a decision having being made at the upper management level. Kent Hughes took some spotlight off the beleaguered team when he was named the new General Manager of the Montreal Canadiens, signing a five year deal.

Monday night’s Habs game in Arizona didn’t show much other than the new team management group has a lot of work to do.

There have been very few Montreal players consistently showing up at game time appearing hungry enough for a win to out compete the opposition. Unfortunately yet understandably, the ones that are competing hard are mostly the ones fighting for contracts on the team going forward, i.e. all members of the Laval Rocket who get a chance to play for the Habs this season.

Again Ryan Poehling continues to prove he belongs in the NHL, playing with desire and confidence. Poehling made a solid play in the defensive zone early in the 2nd period on a 2 on 2 rush against, covering for his pinching defender. And in the absence of Brendan Gallagher in the lineup, Poehling is now the Canadiens leader in heading to the net in the offensive zone. He was rewarded for his net front presence scoring his 5th goal of the season, tipping in a Jonathan Drouin shot while screening the goalie on the power play in the 2nd period.

2 assists for Jonathan Drouin Monday night also has to be counted as a good thing in another bad loss. He showed some leadership Monday night on a team that is in desperate need of a leader, and now has 19 points in 30 games, tied for first in points on the Habs this year with Nick Suzuki who has played 7 more games than Drouin.

In a short 2 game sample Rem Pitlick has played with speed and composure, and is very deserving of his minutes on the power play and in the top 6 for the Canadiens. Pitlick scored on a 2 on 1 down low after a pass from Jonathan Drouin in the first period Monday night, finishing the play after a turnover caused by a Christian Dvorak forecheck lead to an odd man situation in the Coyotes zone.

If you count the goals Pitlick scored this year with his former team the Wild, he now has 7 on the season, tied for the lead on his new team. Unfortunately a waiver wire pick up coming in and immediately looking like a standout on his new team says much about the state of the Habs this year.

Alex Romanov continues to be one of the few good stories out of Montreal this lost season. Romanov is giving the fans something to cheer about every game. He continues his development, on the worst team in the league, playing extremely physical defence, in 2nd place in the entire league with 120 hits. There should be no doubt about his place on the team going forward. There are currently very few others who I would consider in the same category.

Hitting 2 posts on one power play in the 1st period and another failed coaches challenge in the 2nd period on the Coyotes 4th goal, are indicative of how this season has gone for Montreal. And Dominique Ducharme’s decision to pull Cayden Primeau at the end of the 2nd period was another baffling one to say the least. It served to do nothing but be a hard hit on the young goaltender’s confidence as he tries to establish himself as an NHL calibre goalie.

Montreal’s ability to develop young talent remains one of its biggest weaknesses. I only hope Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes, in their new positions as stewards of the Montreal Canadiens future, are looking as hard at the head coach as they are at the players on the current roster.

Next. Rangers interested in Lehkonen. dark