Canadiens Welcome Martin St. Louis Back To The Bench With Inspired Effort

Montreal Canadiens v Florida Panthers
Montreal Canadiens v Florida Panthers / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages

Martin St. Louis surprised his Montreal Canadiens troops at the hotel in Denver ahead of their matchup against the Colorado Avalanche. 

The Habs played quite well given the circumstances, but there were no signs of what was to come. Powered by Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar and co, the high-powered Avalanche are in the top tier of the NHL. But Montreal wasn’t intimidated.

MacKinnon opened the scoring early, beating Samuel Montembeault with a quick, well-placed shot. Nick Suzuki then answered back with his 29th goal of the season, just a few moments later. The two respective number-one centres went tit for tat. 

Little did anybody know that MacKinnon’s goal would be the Avalanche's lone goal of the game. Montembeault put in an all-world effort, standing tall against the juggernaut offence that is expected from the Avalanche. Joel Armia was able to solve Ave’s goaltender Justus Annunen with a wrap-around, to put the Canadiens up 2-1.

It stood as the eventual game-winner, but the story of the game was Montembeault.

In a game where the Avalanche pushed the Canadiens back on their heels, the defence bent but didn’t break. It was a cohesive defensive effort, with the forwards supporting their defenseman. And when they did get beat, Montembeault was like a brick wall, keeping the puck out of his net. 

Time and time again this Canadiens squad proves that hard work and sheer effort catch some teams off guard. This game was a great example of the whole team coming together as one to welcome the coach back to the bench. St. Louis squad would run through a wall for him, and that is precisely what they did on Tuesday night.

For the tank fans, this win is a bitter pill to swallow, but it is a sign of positive things to come and something they can build on for next year. There is no quit in them and, whatever it takes to win, they will do. A great example of their desire to win was their effort with shot blocks, many of which were point-blank scoring opportunities.

With the adversity that the team had faced with their recent play, and losing their head coach, they didn't back down. Instead, they tackled the challenge with open arms and showed the mental strength that they have worked on with St. Louis and Co. It was an impressive effort and a sign of positive things ahead.

The structure and culture have become the epitome of what this team is, a squad that bends but never breaks and is never truly out of a game until the final whistle.