That was not the way Geoff Molson was planning this season. It was an empty building for game one of an eight-game home stall, as the Quebec government still does not allow fans at sporting events.
The good news is that no one was personally disappointed by the result, as the Anaheim Ducks welcomed the Montreal Canadiens home by leading them 5-4.
Jake Evans is an interesting case study. He is the perfect example of a player ready for the NHL, who possesses enough skill to belong. Unfortunately, however, he is also the perfect example of a player facing enemies in the middle too high on the depth map due to Montreal’s team weakness.
When Marc Bergevin donated a three-year contract to Evans, what he had in mind was that Evans played a fourth-line center role. That’s exactly what Evans is, and when he gets those games, he’s a bona fide NHL player who can handle the job.
However, when the club is so bad that Evans has to face the opposition’s best centers some nights, then he’s going to suffer. Even with that, Evans is just minus-nine on the season for Montreal. It does not sound that good, but the Canadiens have the second weakest difference in the entire league.
There are not many good pluses or minuses to go around, and Evans’ number is respectable. His goal was on a breakaway and it was a great move, because even while he was falling, Evans was able to place it in the top corner. In the third period, Evans had another beautiful goal when he hung past the defender and went over the fold to carry it into the far side.
Both of his goals were beautiful. Evans has these moments of attacking brilliance that show what can be possible in the right environment. Give him the right matches and see how he generally shines.
Evans is the perfect example of how everything is a mess this season. There is an asterisk to everything; even the better players in the team can be so much better given the right environment.
Call of the Wild: Montreal Canadiens embarrassed by Minnesota Wild after 8-2
Overall, the Canadiens should get credit for playing proudly in this one. When they were 3-0 behind on six shots allowed, it would have been easy to just say it was not their night and pack it. They fought back from that huge backlog to cut the lead while significantly outscoring the Ducks. The Canadiens doubled the Ducks in shots and deserved a better fate than they got.
All in all, however, fans of the Canadiens understand that this season is a write-off. All that is expected is an effort.
Montreal gave it an amazing one, even if they just shot too short. No one will criticize this one too much. In fact, Evans was outstanding as mentioned; Rem Pitlick was an amazing waiver wire pickup; Nick Suzuki almost made it fast; Josh Anderson played with hunger and Artturi Lehkonen showed nice finishing on his score.
COVID-19: Doctor in Ontario banned from prescribing ivermectin, now director of the company that offers medicine
‘Border minority’ in truck convoy with ‘unacceptable views’ does not represent Canadian: Trudeau
There was a lot to be happy about in this defeat.
Call of the Wilde!
Sometimes Cayden Primeau looks ready. He’s putting in a solid game and it’s easy to think his time is now. He made 43 shots from 46 shots in Denver and it was an evening that looked like he might have dawned and established himself enough to be an NHLer.
Since then, however, he is simply not ready for the show. He was awful for two periods and allowed five goals on 27 shots in Minnesota – not looking strong at all.
It was even worse in Montreal against the Ducks, where Montreal actually started well by winning the shot put, but Primeau could not save them. Anaheim got three goals on the first six shots. The shots after 20 minutes gave Montreal a 15-7 advantage, but the Canadiens were already out of the game and so was Primeau. Samuel Montembeault came in to finish the match.
Call Of The Wild: Montreal Canadiens Fall In Overtime Against Colorado Avalanche
Over the years, it has been easy to take Carey Price for granted. Montreal was in a lot of games because a night of suspicious goalkeeper like this was extremely rare. Now, without Price, a team like Montreal struggling to score goals is quickly exposed in that area.
Price would have had at least two, if not all of them in the first period, and Habs fans would still have something to look forward to.
Sometimes going home is exactly what you need to get your mojo back. In the movies, a struggling player goes back to practice with his former team to refresh his confidence and find his game again. The protagonist in movies steps out on that cool ice and feels all the good memories washing over him, and suddenly he is ready to fly for his new club while nothing was right before.
However, it’s just for the movies, right?
Well, part one of the two-part film script was written.
Cole Caufield was actually invited yesterday to practice with the Wisconsin Badgers as they prepared for their weekend series. It turned out that Caufield was having a great time, and when he saw that smile, one is reminded of last season when he won the Hobey Baker Award. The players were delighted to have him back.
Of course, Caufield is not allowed to actually look after the Badgers this weekend when they face Michigan at the Kohl Center in Madison, as enjoyable as it would be to watch. They were just happy to have him on the ice for exercise.
Caufield is simply time, with Joel Armia, who according to NHL rules is done with their quarantine. However, they are not done with the border patrol rules that require you to be allowed a total of 14 days from the start of COVID-19 before returning to Canada.
The two will be allowed to return to Canada on Saturday. It’s not likely that they will be rushed into the series for the competition that night, but when Caufield returns, would it not be great if he could write the second act of that film script?
Brian Wilde, a Montreal-based sports writer, brings you Call of the Wilde on globalnews.ca after every Canadiens game.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.