But the teams are bad for different reasons. The Red Wings, whose last Stanley Cup win was ten years ago, are now the oldest team in the NHL. The team the Canadiens currently put on the ice are the league’s youngest.
While a huge portion of the Montreal fan base was, for reasons of the draft lottery, hoping for a loss, the seven rookies on the ice for the Canadiens were more interested in their NHL futures than what may or may not happen on the April 26th lottery day.
Ultimately, in a mistake-filled game, motivation was the difference.
THE DREADED FIRST ROUNDER
Scouting director Trevor Timmins will never get out from under the weight of first round draft picks like David Fischer, Louis Leblanc, Jared Tinordi, Nathan Beaulieu and probably Mike McCarron, but he might see redemption in two of his more recent choices, Nikita Scherbak and especially Noah Juulsen. Scherbak wasn’t there tonight but Juulsen definitely was.
Scouting reports kept telling us that Juulsen was projected to be defensive-minded with a good first pass. Maybe it will shake out that way. But the first thing I noticed in this game was the confident first period rush deep into the Detroit zone. Minutes later it was his shot from the point that deflected off Nicolas Deslaurier for the game’s first goal.
In the second period while killing off a penalty, he was hit and hobbled by a hard shot from the Wings Martin Frk. Seconds later Frk hit him again on a soft spot on his leg. He got to the bench in clear agony and left for the dressing room. Juulsen was back on the ice for his next shift just over 3 minutes later.
Canadiens management is not going to forget that. I thought he overplayed and found himself out of position on the Wings first goal, but once again the good far outranked the bad and we have to remember this was only his 22nd career NHL game.
Was it something he said?
Halfway through the game, Claude Julien apparently decided that Alex Galchenyuk was not pulling his weight with de la Rose and Lehkonen and dropped him down to the third line with Logan Shaw and Charles Hudon.
At the end of the night Galchenyuk’s stats line was awful. No shots on goal. Not even a shot-attempted. Only time I noticed him all night was as the trailer on that give-and-go game-winning Artturi Lehkonen goal early in the third period. Because of that he wound up plus-1 in the game. Faint praise. Rather odd situation considering Galchenyuk’s play in recent weeks.
ALSO WORTH MENTIONING
….Nicolas Deslauriers’ presence in the lineup was a gametime decision. He scored twice in this game and that gives him ten in 57 games. That’s 15 goals in an 82 game schedule which is very good for fourth liner.
….The Canadiens scored two give-and-go goals on odd-man rushes. The first was a perfectly executed Gallagher to Drouin to Gallagher for his 31st of the season. The second also a well played Lehkonen to Logan Shaw and back to Lehkonen for the game-winner.
….Who knows where Antti Niemi is going to wind up next season, but off what we have seen especially since late February guarantees it will be somewhere in the NHL.
ABOUT THE LOTTERY
The Canadiens dropped down to 5th in the lottery for about a 90 minutes. But then Vancouver’s beat Arizona in overtime bumped them back up to 4th and dropped the Canucks back to 5th. With one game to play Vancouver is one point ahead of Montreal’s 71 points. With the loser point Arizona remains third in the lottery one point behind the Canadiens. Ottawa is four points behind the Canadiens and second in the lottery with two games left at Pittsburgh and Boston.
WRAPPING IT UP
The Canadiens finish this ugly season in Toronto Saturday night. The Leafs will be looking for a season sweep of the four game series. A loss to Toronto would guarantee the Canadiens would finish no worse than fourth in the draft lottery, which also means the Canadiens are draft position will be no worse that seventh.