Tyler Toffoli – Nick Suzuki – Cole Caufield
Artturi Lehkonen – Phillip Danault – Josh Anderson
Corey Perry – Jesperi Kotkaniemi – Joel Armia
Michael Frolik – Jake Evans – Eric Staal
Ben Chiarot – Shea Weber
Joel Edmundson – Jeff Petry
Jon Merrill – Alexander Romanov
Jake Allen – Cayden Primeau
Brett Kulak, Erik Gustafsson
Xavier Ouellet, Charlie Lindgren, Michael Pezzetta, Joel Teasdale
Brendan Gallagher (hand), Carey Price (concussion), Paul Byron (lower-body), Jonathan Drouin (undisclosed), Tomas Tatar (lower-body)
With Dominique Ducharme behind the bench, a common thread to Canadiens’ losses is that the team appears unprepared from the drop of the puck. Tonight, the interim coach said that he didn’t mind the team’s start, but 1:38 into the game Montreal was down 1-0. And less than nine minutes into the game, Auston Matthews scored the eventual game winner.
Ducharme pointed out that the Maple Leafs got goals on their first two scoring chances. In fact, the Canadiens limited Toronto to just seven shots and two high-danger scoring chances in the first period and yet trailed 2-0 at the intermission. It was a solid defensive effort by the Habs but not the best outing for Jake Allen.
Spending so much time defending left little time for creating offence. Montreal managed just three high danger scoring chances in the game, and none in the third period. The Leafs cruised to a win clinching a playoff spot at the top of the North Division.
The Canadiens are almost assured the final playoff spot in the division. Currently Montreal is in 17th spot but just two points out of 20th in the standings. In a normal year, that wouldn’t be good enough to be a playoff team.
It’s somewhat reminiscent of last season where they were gifted a spot in the play-in round with a 24th place regular season finish. Then a one-man effort by Carey Price upset the Pittsburgh Penguins earning his team a playoff berth.
Marc Bergevin likely escaped accountability last season due to a quirk in the rules for a pandemic-stricken season. Will a playoff berth or a first round win be enough for Bergevin to keep his job this time given the lofty expectations at the beginning of the season?
Has Ducharme done enough to remove the interim tag with a record that is below that of Claude Julien? We are about to find out as we enter the month of May.
But in the pre-game media availability, we heard the first edition of the narrative that may be used at season’s end. Ducharme said that no team in history has had to endure 25 games in 43 days and travel from coast to coast. Nice try, but with all teams facing their own challenges in a COVID season, I don’t think that fans will be buying that excuse from the Canadiens.
The Canadiens continue their four game home stand by hosting the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night.
▲ Jake Evans, Jeff Petry, Joel Edmundson
▼ Jon Merrill, Alexander Romanov, Jake Allen, Corey Perry
Check out the game preview here: Maple Leafs @ Canadiens: New Forward Lines