You have to hate losing and rebuilding should not be used as an excuse

Losing should be hated and reconstruction should not be used as an excuse


Finally, the Canadiens won one on Tuesday against the Penguins. It was about time, but that doesn't change my worries. Reconstruction is all well and good, but I don't think we hate defeat enough in the Habs camp.  

I already talked about it a few weeks ago and we saw the same phenomenon repeat itself in the recent seven-game losing streak. What do we hear after these repeated setbacks. “We played well… We put in a good effort… It's encouraging… etc.” 

I agree that it's important to keep a positive attitude in a trying season, but we accept defeat a little too easily for my taste and it's unhealthy. The sad performance against the Colorado Avalanche was the final straw for me. 

Playing against the Stanley Cup champions is a nice challenge, but yet, after eight minutes of play, it was already 3-0 for the gang at Nathan MacKinnon and it was speeding along the highway leading to Jake's net Allen. 

I said last week that the reconstruction would be long and we had another clue in this game. If “we play well” and lose seven games in a row, it's scary for the future. 

We realize that we are not in the same league as the Avalanche and reconstruction should not be used as an excuse. You have to hate losing, period. You have to be able to look in the mirror after a game and tell yourself that we gave our best. Who could say that on Monday night? 

The goalies pay the price

The Canadiens' goalies paid the price for this poor performance and it wasn't the first time, but let's be honest. Will Samuel Montembeault, or Cayden Primeau, be an elite goaltender the day the Canadiens become a real threat in the NHL? 

We know that Allen will probably no longer be in the background at this time. Montembeault has progressed and he did well in the win over the Penguins on Tuesday, but can he improve with each season? It's going to peak at some point and maybe it's already there. As for Primeau, he is not yet a star goaltender in the American League. Hoping that he will be in the NHL one day is a very optimistic scenario.

Do not imitate the Oilers and Leafs

Let's dream a little and say that in two or three years, the CH finds itself with an alignment comparable to the Maple Leafs or the Oilers, perhaps even with Connor Bedard in its ranks. Who knows? Will we be able to win with Montembeault or Primeau as number one? 

I doubt it and we should certainly not imitate the Oilers and the Leafs who have never prioritized the defense of the net. These two leading formations are still wondering about this. For the Leafs, Matt Murray has allowed four goals in each of his last five games. Ilya Samsonov is a bit better, but he has everything to prove. 

Jack Campbell has been a disaster in Edmonton so far. The Oilers will likely have to fall back on Stuart Skinner, who is having a respectable season but has never played a playoff game. 

The general manager, Kent Hughes must find a promising goalkeeper. If the Bruins have found a Linus Ullmark and the Wild seem to have acquired a pearl in Filip Gustavsson, Hughes can do the same and it is a priority file. 

-Comments collected by Gilles Moffet


Bad management 

I was talking about the bad goalie management in Toronto and Edmonton, but what about the Buffalo Sabers who started the season with a number one who had never played more than 19 games in a season, Eric Comrie? At 41, Craig Anderson was a bit of a risk as an auxiliary, but he did a good job. In the middle of the playoff race, we used three goalies, which is not very smart because even if you qualify, none of the three can arrive in the post-season in optimal shape. And let's not forget. The Sabers let Linus Ullmark go at the end of the 2020-21 season. Today, he is the favorite to win the Vézina Trophy, while the Sabers are on track to miss the playoffs for the twelfth year in a row. Probably with Ullmark things would have been different.

Ullmark loses one After nine straight wins, Linus Ullmark “finally” lost a game on Tuesday. I don't know if he's thinking about his numbers, but he's still at .935 in efficiency as of mid-March. It's incredible. I hope that doesn't distract him. I remember in my big season in 2001-02, before a game in Nashville on March 23, 2002, I was looking at my stats and starting to do some calculations, telling myself that if I allowed a goal, or none, I could still improve my numbers. Very bad idea. I allowed three goals in ten minutes and my work night ended there. I did not repeat the error. Ullmark, and any goalie for that matter, needs to stay focused on his job and not think too much about his numbers. 

Fleury's influence

Former Senators goaltender of Ottawa, Filip Gustavsson, is having quite a season with the Minnesota Wild and so much so that if the playoffs started tomorrow, he would be my starting goaltender. You can be sure that part of his success is attributable to Marc-André Fleury who is such a good teammate, but also a great example for a young goalkeeper. Remember how good he had been for Matt Murray in Pittsburgh. Fleury also had a great bond with Robin Lehner with the Vegas Golden Knights. And he is still spectacular in front of his net. The Penguins miss him, that's for sure.