Tomas Tatar – Phillip Danault – Brendan Gallagher
Nick Cousins – Max Domi – Nick Suzuki
Artturi Lehkonen – Jesperi Kotkaniemi – Joel Armia
Matthew Peca – Nate Thompson – Jordan Weal
Ben Chiarot – Shea Weber
Brett Kulak – Jeff Petry
Otto Leskinen – Cale Fleury
Cayden Primeau – Carey Price
Christian Folin, Mike Reilly, Charles Hudon
Paul Byron, Jonathan Drouin, Victor Mete
Geoff Molson promised that a visit to the Bell Centre would be more entertaining. No expense would be spared to spruce up between-period presentations, offer additional food options and improve the quality of the sound.
The Bell Centre was one of only two arenas in the NHL to use a siren to signal the end of periods. Until tonight. With the debut of the new sound system, the iconic siren was disconnected replaced by an electronic simulated siren sound.
The vintage device happened to be a holdover from the Montreal Forum. You know, that place where 24 Stanley Cups were hoisted (22 by the Canadiens and two by the Montreal Maroons.)
The thin-sounding electronic replica sounded like a ring tone played over one of Geoff’s old flip phones.
What the Bell Centre desperately needs to bring fans to the rink and keep them, more than the fluff, is a hockey team with a legitimate chance to contend for a Stanley Cup. And while Mr. Molson is willing to fund a few cosmetic improvements, he has not been willing to do what’s necessary to give the on-ice product a chance for a championship.
Smoke and mirrors.
That’s why, when faced with a losing streak of historic proportions for the franchise, Marc Bergevin summoned a 20-year-old goaltender from Laval to change the channel. Like cats to a laser pointer, some fans dutifully took the bait. To no one’s surprise the game was a sellout, for only the ninth time in 17 home games this season.
Dangling the latest shiny bauble is not a serious solution. It is not rooted in hockey logic. It does nothing to address the deep-seeded problems in the organization.
And lastly, it does nothing for the development of Cayden Primeau.
There’s no doubt that the young goaltender was thrilled by the experience. And so was his family. But he was woefully unprepared to step on the ice with the CH on his chest having played just 12 games in the AHL.
There’s no criticism to be directed here at Primeau. He was fine. He was nervous handling the puck, had problems with rebounds and allowed two soft goals.
Let’s hope that he is afforded considerable time in Laval, two years at minimum, to develop his mental and physical game to their potential.
Primeau’s start in goal may have distracted some fans but it did nothing to address the problem at left defence. Of the healthy, left-handed defenders in the organization, Ben Chiarot, Brett Kulak, Otto Leskinen, Mike Reilly, Gustav Olofsson, Xavier Ouellet, Karl Alzner, Ryan Culkin, Evan McEneny and David Sklenicka (have I missed anyone?), the head coach of the Canadiens trusts precisely one of them.
Chiarot. And Julien is playing him to death.
With a little less than two-thirds of the season remaining, can coach Julien continue to play Chiarot and Shea Weber in the ball park of 30 minutes a night? No, it’s unsustainable.
And then there is the season-long issue of being short a top-six scoring forward. An additional problem may have been added to the list tonight if Jesperi Kotkaniemi will be out for any length of time.
The point is that these are serious problems that require serious solutions. Unfortunately, the folks in charge are hoping fans will be memorized by things that will not result in a 25th Cup anytime soon.
The Canadiens have lost nine of their past 10 games. The team headed to New York City following tonight’s game. Jesperi Kotkaniemi has an upper body injury and did not make the trip.
Plus / Minus
▲ Brendan Gallagher, Cale Fleury, Artturi Lehkonen, Shea Weber, Ben Chiarot
▼ Jeff Petry, Matthew Peca, Nate Thompson, Brett Kulak, Jordan Weal