Week 14 in One Word: Rectify

January 16, 2023

The 14th week of action for the Montreal Canadiens featured four games. On Monday night the Seattle Kraken were in town and the result was a 4-0 loss. The Habs turned it around on Thursday, with a 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators. They headed to New York for the weekend – the result on Saturday night was a 2-1 loss to the Islanders, and then on Sunday at Madison Square Garden, the Canadiens topped the Rangers 2-1.

On Monday the Habs announced an injury to Jake Allen, and Cayden Primeau hoped to rectify some previous impressions in his call-up.

That’s where we’re at in Montreal. Not mathematically eliminated yet, but the playoffs are out of reach. The injury list is ugly again and we’re at less than seven weeks to the trade deadline. There will be lots of call-ups and lots of opportunities to make a new or rectified impression.

Primeau was once believed to be Carey Price’s successor, but that eventuality seems more unlikely by the day. He’s had another up and down year in Laval, and has yet to make a solid impression when the chances have come in Montreal. It didn’t happen for him this week, with the coach electing to play Sam Montembeault in back-to-back games rather than give Primeau the start.

Primeau isn’t the only chap trying to make an impression. Anthony Richard failed to do enough in his audition and was sent down in favour of Jesse Ylonen who is looking like an NHLer so far. Others will get their chance in the days ahead.

The coach thought some things were rectified following the win over St. Louis, but the loss to Seattle on Monday left him scratching his head.

This has always been a development year, but the plan of the coach and players was to surprise people. They did for a couple of months, and then along came December.

I imagine it takes a toll, having to face the reality that you’re not a playoff team and you still have half a season to play. Or imagine trying to put forward a strong effort, night after night, while knowing you’re not in the team’s plans for the future. We can expect a bit of a roller coaster for the rest of this season, particularly until the trade deadline passes.

The focus from here is trying to rectify bad habits and to put in place new practices that will sustain the team for the future, and doing so while the look of that team is still under major renovation. That won’t be fun to watch every night, but it is essential. It’s what a rebuild looks like.

On Thursday, the Montreal Canadiens tried to rectify some things where P.K. Subban is concerned.

This is not about who won the trade. It’s not about whether Marc Bergevin could have gotten more since he was obviously committed to trading PK. It’s not even about whether both parties could have handled some things differently. Not for me, at least.

I’m hopeful that honouring P.K. is a step in rectifying the nasty habit of the last regime of having every single departure turn ugly. Pacioretty was the worst captain. Markov was an unskilled negotiator. Radulov used the Habs and always planned to leave. Kotkaniemi had a bad attitude. Galchenyuk had an interfering father. Danault wasn’t worth what he was demanding.

You get the picture. Marc Bergevin sure had bad luck where bad apples were concerned.

In contrast, Kent Hughes inherited an unhappy Jeff Petry, demanding a trade in the middle of a pandemic, and a spouse who wasn’t as content as the player. Hughes showed nothing but respect for Petry, and his professionalism helped mute the whispers of a jilted fanbase.

On Thursday, fans were given closure, and an opportunity to celebrate everything we loved about Subban before saying a last goodbye. A player who gave his heart and soul to Montreal was given due respect, and some wrongs of the past were rectified, at least as much as they could be.

Hughes et. al. can’t possibly rectify the childishness of banning the triple-low-five, or the offensiveness of “making P.K. a better human”, or the soured relationship that surrounded the donation to the local children’s hospital. But they can and did send a message about how the Montreal Canadiens will treat its players going forward.

A weekend in New York drew some attention to an area the Montreal Canadiens need to rectify.

Two games in New York against two of the league’s top goaltenders. On Saturday they were greeted by Ilya Sorokin rocking a save percentage of .957, and then on Sunday they faced Igor Shesterkin with his .935 save percentage. In the meanwhile, Allen was out with an upper body injury. A tandem of Montembeault and Primeau was supposed to reveal a giant organizational hole that needed to be rectified.

Instead, what we saw was young Monty take both starts and look like he belonged in the showdown against two of the best. He’s forcing everyone to consider that he may be more than a placeholder.

Nonetheless, when the guy who was your top goaltending prospect is someone you don’t trust in a back-to-back, there is a depth issue. There is no doubt that Kent Hughes will eventually rectify that and deal for a young goalie who is projected to be a good NHL starter. With Monty performing the way he is, Hughes doesn’t have to rush that decision.

With the trade deadline approaching, Hughes will be aware of potential pending cap stress and the potential to rectify it.

There is a lot of chatter about Josh Anderson being in high demand and Hughes is listening, and questions being asked about whether he should actually be shopping Anderson. The debate revolves around the extent to which Anderson’s skill set is a bit of a unicorn, and how much decline that skill set will experience before the Habs are contenders again. I loved the trade for Anderson, but count me among the group that would like to see Hughes fetch a haul for him before next season.

Another player is factoring in to my assessment. Brendan Gallagher is out again, this time for a minimum of six weeks. If all goes well, he will play less than 50 games this season. He played 56 last year, and 35 in the shortened previous season. His contract has four more years beyond this at a $6.5M cap hit. The contract is untradeable. Long term injured reserve may be the eventual outcome for Gallagher, but we can count on at least a couple more years of coming and going from the line up.

Gallagher’s contractual reality is a factor in the Anderson decision. Freeing up Anderson’s cap space in favour of younger and cheaper talent is both consistent with the new window, and a tactic to ease the pain of Gally’s cap hit.

The cap is a non-issue for a year or two more but eventually, some old commitments will need to be rectified.

Published by Lori Bennett

Hockey is my hobby. I love a respectful hockey chat or debate, but it stops being fun if we're jerks.

2 thoughts on “Week 14 in One Word: Rectify

  1. I like your point of view. Undoubtedly Hughes will make as many moves as he can at this deadline. Some moves will not be possible but whatever Hughes does I’m confident that all players, incoming and outgoing, will be treated with respect. I believe Hughes is committed to Montreal’s rectified reputation as a great place to play.

    Liked by 1 person

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