Another game, another loss for the Montreal Canadiens.

Coupled with wins by the Arizona Coyotes and Ottawa Senators on Sunday, this 5-2 thumping at the hands of the New York Rangers sunk the Canadiens to 28th in the NHL standings, which is just about the biggest positive they could take away from the Big Apple.

The Canadiens are once again in a good position for the NHL Draft Lottery. They still have an opportunity to get into a better one and it’s unlikely they’ll be in a much worse one after the last of their remaining five games are played. And while that may not be what they wanted when this all started in October, it’s still an important consolation.

This was the most probable outcome to begin with — especially after Kirby Dach went down in Game 2 of the season — and there’s no denying that when it’s realized it will benefit the team’s future much more than a finish towards the middle of the pack would.

And the progress the Canadiens have still experienced in their collective game, which was far more evident on Saturday night against the Maple Leafs than it was on Sunday against the well-rested Presidents’ Trophy favourites in Manhattan, is going to help them move forward as well.

On the individual front, there has also been key growth, which was highlighted on this night.

Cayden Primeau made 41 saves on Broadway, under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden, and he was only beaten by shots he had absolutely no chance on. It was yet another solid performance that served to emphasize just how far he’s come within the span of one year — from seemingly so unsure of himself to so steady over 21 appearances. That has enabled him to completely undo the prevalent narrative that he was somehow losing in the Canadiens’ decision to carry three goaltenders up until the trade deadline.

var adServerUrl = “”;
var $el = $( “#video_container-157168” );
var permalink = $el.closest(‘.snet-single-article’).data(‘permalink’);

/*
if ( “1” == true && ‘undefined’ !== typeof window.getIndexAds ) {
var so = {preroll:{1:{1:{siteID:191888},2:{siteID:191889}}}};
adServerUrl = window.getIndexAds( ‘http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6350492544112&cmsid=384’, so, permalink);
} else {
adServerUrl = “http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6350492544112&cmsid=384”;
}
*/
adServerUrl = “http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6350492544112&cmsid=384”;
var adServerUrl_result = adServerUrl.includes(“cust_params”);
var queryString=”;
if(adServerUrl_result){
var gettheDUFI = localStorage.getItem(“theRED_loc”)

if(gettheDUFI){
queryString += “dufiid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
queryString += “ppid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
var ppid = “ppid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
}

var DUFI_IP = sessionStorage.getItem(“DUFI_IP”)

if(DUFI_IP){
queryString += “dufiip=” + DUFI_IP + ‘&’;
}

adServerUrl = adServerUrl.replace(/cust_params=/, ppid + ‘cust_params=” + encodeURIComponent(queryString) );
}

$el.after( unescape(“%3Cscript src=\”” + (document.location.protocol == “https:” ? “https://sb” : “http://b”) + “.scorecardresearch.com/beacon.js\” %3E%3C/script%3E”) );

$( document ).one( “ready’, function() {
$( “#video_container-157168” ).SNPlayer( {
bc_account_id: “1704050871”,
bc_player_id: “JCdte3tMv”,
//autoplay: true,
//is_has_autoplay_switch: false,
bc_videos: 6350492544112,
is_has_continuous_play: “false”,
adserverurl: adServerUrl,
section: “”,
thumbnail: “https://www.sportsnet.ca/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/6350492544112-1024×576.jpg”,
direct_url: “https://www.sportsnet.ca/nhl/video/canadiens-newhook-sneaks-by-and-snipes-on-a-breakaway/”
});
});

var adServerUrl = “”;
var $el = $( “#video_container-254980” );
var permalink = $el.closest(‘.snet-single-article’).data(‘permalink’);

/*
if ( “1” == true && ‘undefined’ !== typeof window.getIndexAds ) {
var so = {preroll:{1:{1:{siteID:191888},2:{siteID:191889}}}};
adServerUrl = window.getIndexAds( ‘http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6350492544112&cmsid=384’, so, permalink);
} else {
adServerUrl = “http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6350492544112&cmsid=384”;
}
*/
adServerUrl = “http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6350492544112&cmsid=384”;
var adServerUrl_result = adServerUrl.includes(“cust_params”);
var queryString=”;
if(adServerUrl_result){
var gettheDUFI = localStorage.getItem(“theRED_loc”)

if(gettheDUFI){
queryString += “dufiid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
queryString += “ppid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
var ppid = “ppid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
}

var DUFI_IP = sessionStorage.getItem(“DUFI_IP”)

if(DUFI_IP){
queryString += “dufiip=” + DUFI_IP + ‘&’;
}

adServerUrl = adServerUrl.replace(/cust_params=/, ppid + ‘cust_params=” + encodeURIComponent(queryString) );
}

$el.after( unescape(“%3Cscript src=\”” + (document.location.protocol == “https:” ? “https://sb” : “http://b”) + “.scorecardresearch.com/beacon.js\” %3E%3C/script%3E”) );

$( document ).one( “ready’, function() {
$( “#video_container-254980” ).SNPlayer( {
bc_account_id: “1704050871”,
bc_player_id: “JCdte3tMv”,
//autoplay: false,
//is_has_autoplay_switch: false,
bc_videos: 6350492544112,
is_has_continuous_play: “false”,
adserverurl: adServerUrl,
section: “”,
thumbnail: “https://www.sportsnet.ca/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/6350492544112-1024×576.jpg”,
direct_url: “https://www.sportsnet.ca/nhl/video/canadiens-newhook-sneaks-by-and-snipes-on-a-breakaway/”
});
});

There were more players who distinguished themselves against the Rangers, from Cole Caufield scoring in a fourth straight game to get to 24 goals on his season to Mike Matheson notching two assists to maintain his place among the top-10 most productive defencemen in the league to Alex Newhook scoring the type of goal that only reinforced the notion he can be a viable option to help round out a top-six that so desperately needs his help moving forward. There’s upside in all of that.

Advertisement

They, along with Primeau, Samuel Montembeault, Nick Suzuki, Juraj Slafkovsky, Kaiden Guhle and Arber Xhekaj are members of a core that will remain in place for the foreseeable future, and their advancement this season is an essential development.

It has instilled some hope that the days of another game, another loss for the Canadiens are coming to an end and that a season like this could be the last of its kind in the Jeff Gorton-Kent Hughes era.

That’s not to suggest this build is guaranteed to follow a linear path, with the Canadiens continuing to put one foot in front of the other without stumbling. It’s just that we’re mercifully getting closer and closer to the end of this phase of prioritizing development over results, and nothing could be more positive than that.

It’s been two long years of losses, two long years of (mostly) moral victories, two long years of looking at the standings from the bottom up instead of the top down, two unprecedented years in well over a century of Canadiens hockey, and they’re finally running their course.

The patience from everyone — from managers, coaches, players and fans — has been tested to the limit, and that patience has been essential for the team to get through this part of the first official rebuild in franchise history. But the time for the next phase is on the immediate horizon, and thank goodness it is.

Everyone is — and should be — eager to return to a world where the winningest team in hockey history gets back to being expected to win. First, games with more consistency, and then… eventually… if all goes well… much more than that.

And though it’s still going to be at least a couple more years before we can even think of mentioning the Stanley Cup and the Canadiens in the same sentence, these next eight days should be the last ones we spend over the coming years grouping the words “Canadiens” and “top-five pick” while a season is still underway.





Source link