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In Hainsight: Always a Battle

March 24, 2023, 4:16 PM ET [194 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Follow me @KarineHains for all updates about the Montreal Canadiens and women's hockey

The Canadiens and Bruins may be gravitating at opposite ends of the standings, but when it comes down to it, that doesn’t matter at all. Both teams thoroughly hate each other and it’s a matter of pride to come out on top in each and every match-up. It wasn’t that much of a surprise then that even with so many regulars missing, this watered-down version of the Canadiens managed to put up a very good fight.

Something of a rare occurrence, the Habs actually had more shots on net than their opponent last night and that’s no small feat against an offence as lethal as the Bruins’. Rarer still, the Canadiens managed to score not one, but two power play goals on the night and they did it against the team that has got the best penalty kill percentage of the whole league.

Kirby Dach picked up right where he left off in his return to play Tuesday night, adding another goal to his name and an assist on Suzuki’s goal. That’s 3 points in 2 games for the big center and he spent 24 minutes on the ice, without even looking like he broke a sweat. Clearly, he’s in great shape and he wasn’t hurried back, he was completely ready to return.

Mike Matheson had another strong game, unleashing 5 shots on goal and earning an assist. The more he plays, the more I appreciate the way he handles himself on the ice, the smooth skating, the strong transition game, he brings a lot to the table and nobody’s missing Jeff Petry around these parts.

As for Jake Evans, he spent just under 12 minutes on the ice and was very effective at the faceoff dot, winning 5 of his 7 draws. He played a quarter of his minutes shorthanded, which is good news for the Habs and should somewhat lighten Suzuki’s workload. He didn’t make himself any friends by snowing the Bruins’ netminder with some sharp breaking and of course, a tussle followed, how could it be any other way in a Montreal-Boston game?

Meanwhile, Jake Allen did make some noteworthy saves, but giving up 4 goals on 21 shots will rarely be enough to allow your team to win. That being said, he was the victim of an unlucky deflection on his own defenseman on the first goal of the game and you could see that he really wanted to win that game. At one stage, he even poked Brad Marchand with his stick as he was roughing up Rem Pitlick on the ice. Bruins’ goaltender Jeremy Swayman did see that and skated to center ice, gesturing to Allen to move away from the battleground if he didn’t want to have to fight. After the game, the Canadiens announced that Josh Anderson had suffered a high ankle sprain and was done for the season.

Overall, it was a very entertaining game, one in which it was easy to forget that it meant absolutely nothing and that the Canadiens won’t be tasting playoffs hockey for a second year in a row. With 10 games to go, the Habs are cementing their 28th place as they are 4 points behind both the Coyotes and the Flyers. They still have a 6-point lead on the Ducks though, so finishing 29th is looking increasingly unlikely. Time will tell…
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