Montreal Canadiens – Will October Be Full of Tricks or Treats?

The Montreal Canadiens are heading into Tuesday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in fifth place in the Atlantic Division with a very average 2-1-2 record. With seven games ahead before they close out the month, including four at home, will October be scary or sweet? The Habs end the month with a final game on All Hallows’ Eve in Sin City against the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Tricks

Keith Kinkaid Needs to Prove Himself

Goaltender Keith Kinkaid made his first start of the year last week, allowing five goals on 39 shots in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres. One game does not make or break a goalie, but he will have to be better this season than his 3.36 goals-against average (GAA) in 2018-19 to see much playing time behind starter Carey Price. It looks like he will have at least two more starts in October to shake off the skeletons in his closet.

Coach Julien Shaking Up the Lines

The Canadiens are getting a bit tricky with their lineup changes in preparation for their game against the Lightning. Nick Suzuki has impressed head coach Claude Julien enough to move up to the second line, switching spots on right wing with Jordan Weal. On defense, Brett Kulak will move to the second pairing with Jeff Petry. Ben Chiarot and Christian Folin will pair up on the third line, leaving Mike Reilly and Cale Fleury as healthy scratches for Tuesday’s game.

Montreal Canadiens Brett Kulak Toronto Maple Leafs John Tavares
Montreal Canadiens defenseman Brett Kulak has moved to the second pairing with Jeff Petry. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov)

The Treats

Canadiens Beat Defending Stanley Cup Champions

The Canadiens handed the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues their first regulation loss of the season on Saturday night, with contributions from Brendan Gallagher, Phillip Danault, Tomas Tatar, Jonathan Drouin and Max Domi. They earned their first regulation win, 6-3.

Gallagher Doing His Job

For the Canadiens to achieve the success they are hoping for, they are going to have to call on Gallagher to do what he does best: grind, disrupt, and own the crease. Only five games in, he is ready to lead by example and help bring the Habs to the postseason.

Drouin Leads Habs with Career-Best Start

It’s a great feeling to be honoured by your teammates. On Saturday night, Drouin was chosen as the inaugural ‘winner of the sword’, as player of the game. Captain Shea Weber replaced last season’s ‘Game of Thrones Cape’ with a shiny new ‘Conan the Barbarian Sword’.

“I love it,” Nate Thompson said about the sword. “It’s Conan the Barbarian style, so it’s good. It’s a good celebratory sword. It makes winning more fun when a guy can pick another guy from the room who had a good game. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a guy who had three goals that night. It could be a guy who had six blocked shots and was a warrior out there. I think it’s a good thing to have and it makes winning that much more fun.”

Who will step up to receive the prestigious sword from Drouin on Tuesday night?

Jonathan Drouin, Victor Mete, Phillip Danault,
Montreal Canadiens’ Jonathan Drouin celebrates with teammates Victor Mete and Phillip Danault (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)

The Haunting Truth

As Halloween nears, what will the 2019-20 Canadiens be dishing out? If they want to make the playoffs, it’s time to stop living in the shadows and start shaking off the ghosts of players past. They have the talent to write their own story this season and make the Bell Centre haunt every other team that enters.