Week 26 in One Word: Basket

April 9, 2023

The 26th week of action for the Montreal Canadiens featured three games. On Tuesday night the Habs greeted the Detroit Red Wings and couldn’t score in a 5-0 loss. The Washington Capitals were in town on Thursday and the Habs made up for their Tuesday drought with a 6-2 win. The Saturday night game was a tilt against the Maple Leafs in Toronto, but it was the score that was tilted in a 7-1 loss.

Here’s how I saw this week go down.

Easter week began with a fresh basket of injury reports.

The announcements came on Monday. Sean Monahan underwent season-ending groin surgery. Alex Belzile would miss the rest of the season with a fractured leg. Jake Allen, Jake Evans, Jordan Harris and Rafael Harvey-Pinard missed practice for therapy. Then Cayden Primeau and Corey Schueneman were recalled from Laval.

Consider this. We expected the roster that started the season to not be a playoff contender. That roster has been decimated and replaced by kids and AHLers. They’ve been nothing short of brilliant considering what they’re working with.

Cayden Primeau was given the start on Tuesday with hopes he would not be the same basket of nerves we have seen in previous NHL starts.

The scouting report is in. While inconsistent, Primeau has the goods to be a solid AHL goaltender, even taking the Laval Rocket on a run last season. But when recalled to the NHL he becomes a basket case. The key to his success will be finding confidence at the NHL level.

The recall was coming, regardless of Jake Allen’s situation. The Habs have little time left to assess whether Primeau should have a future in the organization. On Tuesday night, the big question was whether he could manage his emotions and demonstrate he could perform at the NHL level.

The result was a 5-0 loss that could hardly be blamed on Primeau, and was about as exciting as watching someone weave baskets. For me the confidence issue was immediately evident in one of Primeau’s tell tale signs. On the first goal he looked small in his net. The kid is 6’2″ and 200 pounds. He should not look small in his net.

The clock is ticking for HuGo to make a decision.

“The basket looked like an ocean, and I was just throwing rocks in.” ~ Allen Iverson

That was Joel Armia’s story on Thursday night. When the big man is on, he’s really on. Armia now has seven goals and seven assists in 40 games played. That’s likely as much as we would expect of Armia prorated. The problem is that three of those goals came in one game in an already lost season. He put all his eggs in one basket, so to speak, and the basket had already been dropped.

Speaking of that kind of basket, you should go see the Air Movie.

With the season winding down, some teams will be happy to be past dealing with an issue that has become as slippery as a basket of eels.

My God, it’s tough being an ally, isn’t it?

On Thursday night, Denis Gurianov did not participate in the pre-game skate because it was pride night… for family reasons. Based on comments from Martin St. Louis, the suggestion is that Gurianov’s family in Russia would be in danger if he wore a jersey intended to communicate that hockey is for everyone, even the queer community.

I can try to understand where he’s coming from – God knows most of us cannot comprehend what it’s like to be a public figure living in a liberal society while family members live under a dictator. As Marty suggested, until we’ve walked in his shoes…

I can understand the Montreal Canadiens would not want to place Gurianov in a compromising situation. I’m sure he would also understand where the Habs were coming from if they chose to scratch him for that game. I’m sure he would understand the importance of that message.

We respect your right to choose, and sympathize with your predicament. But this team supports inclusion and we won’t play you on a night when you can’t. You’re not the only guy walking in hard shoes.

As Brendan Gallagher said, two things can be true at once. The Habs could have respected Gurianov’s decision while also being bold about their position as an organization. It was the easiest decision in the world for them to make. They dropped the basket.

On Saturday night in Toronto discipline went to hell in a hand basket.

A ton of minor penalties, and a quarter of the game played short handed. One shot on goal in the first period. It was not a good showing. The better team won. As frustrated as some players were, the Habs have player beyond themselves for a long season.

Just two more games remain in the season, and then the Habs can focus on another basket for a few months. It’s going to be a big offseason.

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.

3 thoughts on “Week 26 in One Word: Basket

  1. A difficult week to write about – Jeckyl and Hyde. I had to turn off the Toronto game, just couldn’t watch after the first period. As for Gurianov when he was left out of warmups I was surprised to see him play. If it was a matter of number of players he should have been treated the same as Drouin. A missed opportunity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The disappointing thing for me is that the Habs had a ton of time to think about it and decide on a course of action. NHL teams say they want to be influential in this space, but they have a lot to learn.


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