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Habs Look For Better Effort Tonight Against Minnesota

January 7, 2019, 11:36 AM ET [236 Comments]
Brandon Smillie
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Montreal Canadiens last game against the Nashville Predators was a lesson in how to perfectly upset your fans. A hyped up game against a former fan favorite player brought out ZERO intensity and effort which resulted in a disappointing loss.

Nashville had lost 7 of their last 9 heading into that game and were ripe for the picking. Instead the team showed no jump, wouldn’t win races to pucks, and had no battle in them. The loss also pushed the Habs out of a playoff position. Last game was pretty much worst case scenario.

People still want to make these games a Weber V Subban thing and it’s really become a tired storyline. Subban played well in his role and Weber did the same. People need to recognize the difference in these roles. Subban is not a complete defender and plays a limited role because of his defensive liabilities. He has a great amount of offensive flair but he only played 14:45 against the Habs because he is the type of guy who lets his energy level get the better of him and he tries to do too much on his own instead of relying on instinct to make the right play. He forces a lot and gives the puck away and simply can’t be trusted, hence why the Predators don’t trust him more than Josi, Ekholm, and Ellis. Even Dan Hamhuis was trusted with 19:49 minutes that game.

Weber on the other hand was the Habs best player, as usual, and played a game high 24:52 minutes. I’m going to start a fire here and say that I would be willing to bet Poile would like a do over on that trade after seeing what Subban is on his own team. He dealt a #1, complete D man for a 3-4 D man who the coach can’t put out in all situations, but he plays a flashy game.

Come at me, I don’t care, it’s true.

I would love it if the storyline would die as it’s useless at this point. Neither player has helped their team get engraved on the Stanley Cup and as of today one of them is the best player on their team while the other is like 5th best behind 3 other D men and Forsberg. You can be a fan of PK and that’s fine, but to ignore the obvious to push a storyline is asinine. Weber is better despite being older and doesn’t look to be slowing down.

Also consider that Subban has yet to match his career high 60 pts in 14-15 and has struggled to stay healthy. Also, ALSO consider that Subban has no trade protection and after next season is owed $6,000,000 signing bonus in each of his last two seasons. I would expect Nashville will be looking to move Subban after this season or next to avoid paying so much for a 3-4 D man. This would line up perfectly with the end of Josi’s $4,000,000 per year sweetheart contract as well has pending RFA’s like Hartman, and Fiala. I think the Predators move Subban this offseason or next for sure.

Alright, now that I got that out of my system….

The Minnesota Wild come into Montreal tonight in a similar postion as the Habs. Both teams are battling for a playoff spot and both teams are just on the outside looking in. This is a great game to practice a playoff level effort against a hungry team. The Wild have played well lately as well beating Winnipeg, Toronto, and Ottawa over their last four games while also losing a close game against the Pittsburgh Penguins (3-2). The Wild are definitely missing their top pair D man in Dumba but are getting a great season out of alternate Captain Ryan Suter and his 27 points in 40 games, but the real damage will come from the likes of veteran Z Parise (38 pts in 39 games) and young star M Granlund (38 pts in 40 games).

With the Canadiens owning the leagues 30th best PP and the Wild owning the 9th best PP team discipline will be a huge storyline. The Habs play better 5 on 5 and will need the game to stay that way. Giving the refs any weak reason to call them for infractions will likely decide the game and ruin the Canadiens flow and momentum. The longer the Canadiens can play full strength the more likely they will be to control possession and drive the play to Dubnyk’s crease and they will need that to be the case with how well Duby has played this season.

A win tonight would lift the Canadiens back into 7th place in the conference and at least provide an immediate rewarding feeling to the team. It would also break a pretty long losing streak against the Wild that is at 8 straight losses by a combined score of 35-10.

There are many motivators the coaches can put out there for the Weber led Canadiens to pull from. I really hope to see a better effort first and foremost out the Habs tonight and if they can keep that momentum up for the entire game I don’t see any reason why they can’t walk away with the W.

Dubnyk and Price are your expected starters tonight, but it’s possible that Price sits tonight as well with Detroit on calendar tomorrow night. Niemi was lit up for 7 goals last time he played against the Wild and might be looking for redemption. We will see tonight, but as of right now it’s looking like Price is going in.

Go Habs Go
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