Montreal Canadiens: 24 Thoughts On Habs Holding On For Win In Game 31

Dec 18, 2023; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Montreal Canadiens forward Josh Anderson
Dec 18, 2023; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Montreal Canadiens forward Josh Anderson / Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Second Period Thoughts

Juraj Slafkovsky made a nice little play to get the puck from the defensive zone into the attacking end but is called for roughing as he did a little stiff arm to a defender that he was blowing past. Odd call that you never see. Slafkovsky finally starts using his size to his advantage and now the refs are going to call him to leaning on a guy? Not cool.

Joel Armia is an odd place right now. When the team was healthy, he was banished to the minor leagues. But when he gets called up he immediately becomes one of the team's top penalty killers. His $3.4 million cap hit throws a wrench into any trade talks, but if the Habs even ate $650,000 (or paid a team like the Blackhawks a small price to do so) I think there is some trade value there. A veteran excellent penalty killer with a cap hit of $2.75 million? Maybe get the Blackhawks to eat half ($1.7 million) for a slightly higher fee and Armia could fetch some value in a trade.

Mike Matheson made a couple of great plays to open the scoring. He cut off a Jets breakout attempt by sealing off the boards just inside the blue line and caused a turnover. Then, he moved the puck and jumped directly into the play to help join the offense. He got the puck back, fired it on goal and though it was stopped, the rebound bounced off Josh Anderson and into the net.

Speaking of Anderson, he does look like a big weight was lifted off him after scoring twice against the New York Islanders on Saturday. He has been creating chances since the opening shift and seems to be carrying the puck a bit more with confidence as he finally beat a goaltender for the first time since the middle of March.

Kaiden Guhle had a stretch of games early in the season where he looked like a future Norris Trophy winner. The he had a stretch of games where he looked like he was not a future Norris Trophy winner. Last night's game was another one of the really good ones. His combination of size and speed isn't common and he was active in joining the offense last night while also clearing the front of his own net and destroyed a Jets player in the corner with a big clean body check. He's a huge piece of the rebuild puzzle already in place.

Brendan Gallagher had a tremendous burst of speed to negate an icing and get in on the forecheck. Shortly after he made a couple of quick passes on the power play that made him look like he was 23 years old again. He has done this for a little while this season but then has another stretch of games where he looks old and slow. I can't figure this guy out. What year is it anyway?

It is really not his fault, but Jake Evans looks out of place on a second line. He was set up for a great scoring chance by Sean Monahan but couldn't pull the trigger. Seconds later, he had a chance to spring Josh Anderson on a breakaway with a stretch pass but just was not able to connect on the pass. Injuries to Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook have really highlighted the Canadiens lack of depth.

Anderson is officially on fire as he goes to the net, plays the puck with his hand, then just taps it enough to negate a hand pass and gets it to Christian Dvorak who fires the puck into the back of the net to give the Habs a power play goal. That is four points in two games for Anderson.