April 3, 2022
a polished or smooth surface that forms images by reflection
Similar: glass, looking glass, reflector
something that gives a true representation
The 22nd week of action for the Montreal Canadiens featured three road games against legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, and it showed. On Tuesday the Habs were in Florida to face the Panthers and lost 7-4 in a goalie’s nightmare. They were shut down and shut out in a 4-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. On Saturday they were in Tampa Bay to face the defending Stanley Cup Champions and stole one for the coach, winning 5-4 in a shootout.
Here’s how I saw Week 22 go down.
The opponents this week were an excellent mirror for the Habs to gain a true representation of themselves.
If the Montreal Canadiens were harbouring any illusions that they were close to being a contending team, and that this thing could be turned around quickly, three teams showed up to deliver a mirror this week.
The Florida Panthers rolled out a second line of Huberdeau, Giroux and Lomberg and that line absolutely punished the Habs. The Habs countered with a second line of Pitlick, Dvorak and Anderson – on that night. It’s anyone’s guess who the actual second line is. The cup contending team produced a second line that could be a top line in any world, while the Habs iced a half-decent third line as its second.
The Carolina Hurricanes iced a top line of Teravainen, Aho and Jarvis that met a Habs top line of Caufield, Suzuki and Armia. That top line had Hoffman on it on Tuesday, and last Sunday it featured Anderson. By Saturday it was Rem Pitlick. While Martin St. Louis searches for the perfect complement to his young stars on the top line, the Hurricanes can roll any number of strong combinations as a top line.
On Saturday night it was the Tampa Bay Lightning, fresh off back-to-back Stanley Cups, and a threat to win a third in a row. This is the image the Habs want to see when they look in the mirror in a few years, HuGo has consistently said they want to build a team that can compete for a long time. It took some rough years of building, but that’s what Tampa has become… a decade long threat with no end in sight.
Three legitimate cup contenders. Three teams that offer a mirror for the Habs. This is what contention looks like.
A good mentor can be an effective mirror.
On Saturday night the Habs iced three defence pairs that contained four kids. The Romanov and Schueneman pair have 139 games between them. Young Justin Barron is getting his feet wet in the NHL next to the veteran Joel Edmundson. David Savard was the old hand playing beside Jordan Harris. The two vets led the ice time, but no one played less than 15 minutes. This will be the Habs path to success. Playing the kids and letting them develop alongside a few key veterans acting as mirrors.
Chris Wideman was the veteran who sat so Harris could join the line up. That’s the right call for this team. I have to believe, though, that if an aging Andrei Markov was on the team, with just a handful of games left to play to make it to 1000, that Martin St. Louis would have found a way to both play his kids and respect the veteran.
Talking to the Philadelphia media on Saturday night, Kevin Hayes struggled to justify his coach’s decision to end Keith Yandle’s iron man streak. There was a lot of “decisions need to be made” speak, while also acknowledging he didn’t really agree with the call and stating his own view about the significance of Yandle’s mentoring of the young guys on the team.
Mike Yeo should look in the mirror and ask himself if this is the message he wants to send about important mentors… if this is how he expects to win the buy-in and loyalty of his players.
Sometimes the best mirror is in the faces looking back at you.
The Montreal Canadiens were a team seriously outmatched this week. Three powerhouse opponents against a team that sold hard at the deadline and have injuries to some key players that remain. They had no business winning anything this week, but they also had no intention of rolling over. The newborn Habs are playing hard for their new coach.
Joel Edmundson, speaking of Marty’s return to Tampa as a coach, said that Marty “didn’t want to make it about him, but we definitely did.” After tough losses in Florida and Carolina, the Habs stole one in overtime in Tampa, and they did it for their coach.
That’s a stark contrast to the tone in Philadelphia.
When Marty looks in the mirror this morning, this is what he should see. A crew of kids battling back against a stacked mature team, and a veteran who says, “We did it for you, Coach.”
Some cats look in the mirror and see a lion.
The confidence was just oozing from Nick Suzuki on that shootout winning goal against Tampa on Saturday night. The kid is mostly understated, but occasionally the swagger is too loud to mute. Cole Caufield is anything but understated any time he is anywhere near the net, and if Chantal Machabee has her way, he’ll follow suit near the microphone.
Can you believe the past leadership looked at Caufield and saw a kid they needed to dull down?
Alexander Romanov has been showing off his lion swagger since he arrived, lining up hits and evolving into an offensive factor. Justin Barron whipped out his French proficiency in his first media interview to show off his. When your coach is throwing you out in overtime like you’re the 3-on-3 specialist, like Marty did with Jordan Harris, you better believe there’s some swagger in the tank.
You know who else has some swagger? The coach. Going into his old rink and throwing out a crew of kids like a boss and rolling with them.
The Habs have a new litter of kittens who look in the mirror and see a lion looking back, and that’s exactly what the Montreal market demands.