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Do the Canadiens Have Anything Positive to Take From Exhibition Loss to Maple Leafs?

It was a rough night for the Canadiens, as they dropped their only exhibition game by a score of 4-2 to the rival Maple Leafs. Nothing really went their way, they were behind just 30 seconds into the game. The team took a while to find their groove, some players were amazing, most were mediocre. Is there anything they can build around after this performance? Well, I’m going to try to find something.

What Was Claude Julien Thinking?

Julien leading the Canadiens during a game in 2018

A huge part of the poor performance was the top defensive pair, Weber and Chiarot. They found themselves at fault for 2 of the 4 goals. 30 seconds into the game, they allowed a 2-on-1, Chiarot got caught pinching and was lazy on his backcheck, and Shea Weber stood no chance to stop them. It was the easiest goal that Ilya Mikheyev will ever get.  The Weber and Chiarot pair wasn’t great all year, so it’s really no surprise that they were a weak link in the defensive chain on Tuesday.

I felt throughout the night that Jonathan Drouin was out of place. The Habs set Max Domi as their fourth-line center, and he drove that line. They need to make a change, either make the Domi line the second line or replace Drouin with Domi. Drouin is obviously not able to perform as a second liner. Even if it was just a bad game, the Canadiens need to make a change if they want to win against the Penguins.

Using The Entire Bench

A key to success for any team is having an entire bench full of players that can produce, and the Canadiens had that for the first period. The ability to dress an extra forward and defenseman looked to be good for the Canadiens, as they don’t have a dead set roster yet. However, the extra forward they decided to dress, Alex Belzile, went down with an injury in the first period, which was an interesting move to dress Belzile over Ryan Poehling. On the defence, Julien was able to use everyone, and the bottom-4 performed very well. The KulakPetry pairing was outstanding, Kulak seemed to be in the right place all night, and it was like his stick was a magnet. He broke up multiple passes throughout the night.

Canadiens Power Play Problems

Having trouble scoring with the man advantage is nothing new for the Canadiens. But the performance they put up on the Power Play was the worst I’ve ever seen. They had problems creating scoring chances and even gave up 2 shorthanded markers to the Leafs. 0 for 5 with the extra attacker on Tuesday night. Really a bad look for the Canadiens, and they need to make a change before going into the play-ins. It would be smart for the Canadiens to experiment with a different pairing, I would love to see Victor Mete on the power play on Saturday.

Finding Something to Build Around

It wasn’t easy to find a positive that the Habs can build around going into the play-ins. But one player played his best game all year. That was Victor Mete. Mete seemed to be everywhere, he was strong on the forecheck and was still the first guy back. Mete is a very unique player, and I feel that we saw the Victor Mete that we saw in the 2018-19 season. He was, without a doubt, the Canadiens’ best player all night.

Put it in the Rearview

While it would be great for the Canadiens to sit down and try to fix everything that was wrong. They don’t have the time for that. They suit up against Pittsburgh on Saturday, so they need to rest up, reset and give it they’re all. The team needs to find its scoring touch. Once they do so, they can use the positives from the exhibition match up and show up against the Penguins on Saturday.

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