It’s been a wild ten days for the Montreal Canadiens as they started the season on the road and finished the trip in style. The team has the next five days off, so let’s catch up on the news and rumours from the past week.
Habs Have Hottest Start on the Road in Over 50 Years
The Canadiens started this shortened season on the road with high expectations from their fans. Many expected them to finish in the top four of the division with all the offseason moves, and some didn’t think they improved and would struggle to make the playoffs. So far, the team has met the expectations of the fans and silenced the doubters.
The Canadiens started the road trip on Jan. 13 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, losing in overtime. They went out west to play Edmonton and Vancouver for a five-game western swing, winning four games and losing one to Vancouver in a shootout. They will return home with a record of 4-0-2, getting 10 of 12 points and currently leading the league. Since the 1968-69 season, this is the first time that a team has recorded a point in its first six games on the road to start a season.
Joel Armia Out With a Concussion
During the second game against Vancouver on Thursday night, Armia had a career game. He played in his 300th game and had a career-high four points — 2 goals and 2 assists — that would all be overshadowed with around two and half minutes to play. While battling for the puck on the boards and the Canadiens up 7-3 on the scoreboard, Vancouver defencemen Tyler Myers would come in hard, hitting Armia high and on his blindside, Armia would have to leave the game as a result.
Armia left the ice under his own power, but the team announced the next day that he would be out indefinitely with a concussion. The NHL Department of Player Safety ruled that the hit was legal and Myers would not face a suspension or fine. Many around the NHL and the media feel hits on vulnerable players should be changed to protect them from being seriously injured. As of right now, unless there is contact to the head, the hit is deemed legal regardless of whether the player is vulnerable or not.
With the new schedule for the NHL, the Canadiens played Vancouver again two days later, and many speculated what type of game it would be. This was all answered around three minutes into the first period when Joel Edmundson challenged Myers to a fight. Edmundson got the better of Myers, and the situation was resolved quickly, allowing both teams to concentrate on the game and not payback. The Canadiens would win the contest 5-2.
Mete Could Be on the Move
There have been reports that there are a few teams interested in Canadiens’ defencemen Victor Mete. He has yet to play a game, and unless there is an injury, he may not play anytime soon. He’s listed as the seventh defensemen on the team and until this weekend, when the team recalled Corey Perry from the taxi squad, was the only extra player on the roster.
Mete played 51 games for the Canadiens last season, but this season, with the emergence of Alexander Romanov and Edmundson’s acquisition, he can’t even crack the Habs’ lineup. Elliotte Friedman mentioned on Saturday Night Highlights that there are teams “sniffing” around to see what the Canadiens do with Mete as the season progresses. Although I’m not very high on Mete personally, there is value in his play, and teams like Vancouver and Winnipeg could use help on the blue line.
Of course, the deal would have to be something that works for the Canadiens, and they would need to replace Mete on the roster. Moneywise, both Cayden Fleury and Xavier Ouellet could slide into the lineup, or the Canadiens could try to get a cheap defenceman back or a draft pick. With Pierre-Luc Dubois out of the picture, this is the next best thing to keep Hab trade rumours alive.
Habs Sign 3-Year Deal With Trois-Riviere
Last week, the ECHL announced that a team in Trois Riviere, Quebec, would join the league in the 2021-22 season. On Jan. 18, the Canadiens announced that they had signed a three-year deal to have the team as their ECHL affiliate.
This is great news for the Canadiens and will only help the team’s young prospects’ growth and development. With their own affiliate, they can sign more players to contracts with Laval and not worry about losing ice time playing for a team affiliated with another NHL team. This was a huge issue for Canadiens’ goaltender Micheal McNiven last season, where he bounced around between three ECHL teams to get some ice time.
Canadiens Lead the League in Scoring
When was the last time the Canadiens were the top-scoring team in the league? You might have to go back a few years to find out because it wasn’t anytime recently — 2012-13 they were third, and in 2007-08 they were first in goals for. Not only do the Habs currently lead the league in goals for (GF) with 29, they have six players who are scoring at a point-per-game, and all 19 players that have played at least one game have at least one point.
Not only are they excelling as a team but individually as well. Tyler Toffoli is tied for the league lead in goals with 5 and second in points with 8. Jeff Petry leads the league in +/- with a +9, Edmundson is second with a +8 and Armia third with a +6. The team has also scored four shorthanded goals, which also leads the league. If anything, this is an excellent start to the season.
It looks like Marc Bergevin’s offseason is paying off, and the Canadiens are playing very solidly up and down the lineup. It’s only been six games, but the team has been dominant in all of them. If anything, this is going to be an entertaining season to watch the Habs play. Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.
Trege Wilson lives in Nova Scotia and is a member of the RCN. He is a life long Habs fan and is creator and co-host of the popular Canadiens podcast Habs Unfiltered.