The Montreal Canadiens’ prolific young star Cole Caufield might have been on his way to hitting the 50-goal milestone this season. However, earlier in the week he was injured and will undergo shoulder surgery. Obviously, he was out of last night’s lineup.
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Logically, that means the Canadiens should have been looking ahead toward April’s NHL Draft Lottery to determine the order of selection for the first 16 picks. There’s no logical reason for them to hope for an extended winning streak. Tanking should have been on the agenda.
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The poorer the Canadiens’ record at season’s end, the better the chance the team will win the lottery and have the chance to choose Connor Bedard with the first pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. He’s about as sure a first-pick as Auston Matthews was seven years ago in 2016.
Well, things didn’t go as planned for either this version of the Canadiens or for their opponents the Toronto Maple Leafs last night. Undermanned as they were, they’re a proud bunch with a coach in Martin St. Louis who never says quit. They should have lost last night and had every reason to dial it in after a slow first-period start when they fell behind 2-0. But they didn’t.
The Canadiens came roaring back, led by a goal by none other than Josh Anderson (again) to win the game 3-2 over the Maple Leafs in overtime. In fact, to my eyes, only a stellar game by goalie Ilya Samsonov kept the Maple Leafs in the game long enough to collect a single point for the overtime loss.
Item One: Why Do the Canadiens Consistently Beat the Maple Leafs?
The Canadiens were trailing after the first period but gained momentum and played a strong second period. Ironically, the middle frame has been the Maple Leafs’ time to shine this season. In the end, after an entertaining back-and-forth third period that settled nothing, the Habs ultimately won the game in overtime.
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The Maple Leafs took control of the game, as their head coach Sheldon Keefe noted they needed to, but they could not maintain it. The Canadiens Rem Pitlick, who had scored only two goals all season until last night’s game, scored the winning goal in overtime.
The Canadiens have managed to beat the Maple Leafs twice this season. It seems odd…