Montreal Canadiens: 24 Thoughts On Habs Uneven Effort vs Penguins

Dec 13, 2023; Montreal, Quebec, CAN;
Dec 13, 2023; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; / Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
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Third Period Thoughts

Cole Caufield is buzzing more than we have seen recently. He is getting into the slot ot fire shots and creating chances with his speed and by beating defenders to the net. His lack of production is starting to be a concern, but we saw him looking like his best self for most of last night's game.

Christian Dvorak had a great chance, which would have led to a fun offside review, but fired the puck wide of the net. I know he has dealt with injuries and stuff, but one goal in his first 18 games of this season and only ten in 64 games last season is not what the Canadiens had in mind when they gave up first and second round picks for him.

Lars Eller plays for the Penguins and although it has been nearly a decade I still can't figure out why the Canadiens traded him. He was an excellent third line center with a manageable cap hit of $3.5 million for much of his career. An excellent penalty killer and defensive center with size, speed and some skill but the Habs dealt him for a couple of second round picks.

The veteran line of Dvorak, Joel Armia and Brendan Gallagher isn't really doing what you would expect from a trio of older players. You would think they would be smart defensively and limit chances against by being in the right places and refusing to turn the puck over. Instead, they keep getting stuck in their own zone for entire shifts and are not creating much of anything offensively.

The Penguins played last night and it started to show in the third period. The Canadiens had a 10-2 shots on goal advantage about 15 minutes into the frame and were finally starting to take over the play after a dreary second period that saw almost no scoring chances.

NHL refs are funny. David Savard takes a bit of a run at Drew O'Connor and cross checks him and knocks him to the ice when the puck was nowhere near them. This should be a penalty but since there was already a delayed call on O'Connor for goaltender interference, Savard is allowed to cross check him as free retaliation.

It says a lot about both teams depth (or lack thereof) that Evgeni Malkin and Joel Armia took consecutive shots in the shootout. Jansen Harkins would eventually win it for the Pens in round 12 of the shootout.

Canadiens are proving to be a pretty scrappy group. Without Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook they continue to hang around the .500 mark with a record of 12-13-4. It's not fantastic, but with low expectations at the start of the season and injuries to key players it is kind of impressive.