Montreal Canadiens: 24 Thoughts On Habs Meek Effort In Game 34

Dec 28, 2023; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Montreal Canadiens Sean Monahan
Dec 28, 2023; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Montreal Canadiens Sean Monahan / James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
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Second Period Thoughts

The Canadiens are making a habit out of falling behind 2-0 but were able to come back and beat the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks just before the Christmas break after allowing the first two goals of the game. They were able to pull even on a power play goal with a couple second left in the first period and now get to start the final 40 minutes on even footing although their effort in the first period was not the greatest.

No one listened to me when I said you should cover Jesper Fast in front and he scored just over a minute into the second period to give the Hurricanes back the lead. Some careless play with the puck by Kaiden Guhle and Justin Barron behind their own net resulted in a turnover and a quick pass to the slot where Fast was standing all by himself (again).

The Canadiens neutral zone play could use some work. Several times in a row to start the third period they had full control in between the blue lines and the puck went from a Canadiens player to a Hurricanes player. Carolina undoubtedly plays a smart defensive style, but you don't have to just give them the puck at the blue line.

Jordan Harris changes that pattern as he picks up the puck with speed and chips it behind the Hurricanes defense before breaking down the wing for a decent scoring chance. With Johnathan Kovacevic scratched for this game and Arber Xhekaj still in the minors it is anyone's guess who ends up sticking around on the blue line long term.

Michael Pezzetta is a very likeable player as he works super hard and was never expected to make an impact at the NHL level but has now played 137 NHL games. He gives a tremendous effort every night but has very limited offensive abilities. He did use a burst of speed to get open in the offensive zone and had a wide open net when he got the puck but he just fired it wide with no goaltender to beat. I guess you can't expect too much from your fourth line when the team has a bunch of injuries, but that's a puck any NHLer should be able to slide into the net.

Joel Armia is the most frustrating man in the world. He was sent to the AHL to begin the season, even with a cap hit of $3.4 million and no one batted an eye. It was fully deserved. However, the 30 year old probably saved a goal by getting back on the backcheck and stealing a puck near the net, slowly carried it around his own net and though he was seemingly flanked by seven Hurricanes players he just stickhandled through them all even though he was moving at a glacial pace and carried the puck the entire length of the ice which led to a couple of scoring chances for the Canadiens. Is he a minor leaguer? An elite defensive player? No one knows.

The Canadiens appear to be angry as they leveled a pair of Hurricanes late in the second period. Mike Matheson took out a Hurricanes forward as he crossed into the Canadiens zone with the puck. It was a perfectly legal body check and quickly wiped out any offensive opportunity. Not long after that, Josh Anderson was in on the forecheck and crushed Seth Jarvis into the boards.

It was Jesperi Kotkaniemi that was demolished by Matheson. I don't know much about him as he barely played in this game and only has three points in his last 21 games.