Call of the Wilde: Edmonton Oilers keep winning streak alive against Montreal Canadiens

After a poor effort against the San Jose Sharks, the Montreal Canadiens didn’t get a moment’s reprieve against the high-flying Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers made it ten straight wins edging the Canadiens 2-1 in overtime at the Bell Centre.

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The Oilers have some of the best players in the world, as well the world’s best in Connor McDavid. From a Canadiens point of view, it was interesting to watch who had the task of stopping McDavid, and whether they could pull it off.

While no head coach can line match perfectly during a fast sport with changes on the fly, Martin St. Louis favoured his top line and his best player Nick Suzuki to take up the challenge. While Suzuki is no point-per-game player, he is a solid foe for McDavid.

Montreal’s best line fared well. They didn’t allow a single goal against McDavid’s top line 5-on-5. McDavid did his best work on the power play, as he usually does, then he found Sam Montembeault was up to the task in this shocking contest.

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Edmonton wasn’t supposed to have any issue at all. They’ve been scoring goals at will in the last month. That it was 1-0 Montreal after two was not a prediction anyone would have made. That the Oilers got only one goal over 60 minutes surely had long odds.

On defence, Jayden Struble was out against McDavid on a shift in the second period, and he handled himself extremely well. He faced the best moves that the best player had to offer, and Struble skated right with him. It was impressive. Struble has been a revelation that continues unabated with this performance.

Kaiden Guhle saw a lot of McDavid as well, and though he was beaten a couple times to the outside for speed, he was able to cut the path down to the net to reduce the quality of the chance. Guhle was never embarrassed, and did well enough to keep McDavid at bay. The Canadiens defence had a strong night.

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In his first NHL game, Joshua Roy got a far easier match-up then having to face McDavid or Leon Draisaitl. The Oilers actually don’t have a lot of depth on their forward units, so Roy didn’t face the high-flying Oilers. Roy faced three guys you wouldn’t recognize on the street.

Roy was given a respectable amount of ice time for a first game. He got line mates Sean Monahan and Joel Armia. Roy didn’t have any great scoring chances, but he didn’t give up much either. In a comparison between recent call-ups Emil Heineman and Roy, it was a clear win for the Quebec native.

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Montreal is such an enigmatic team. They were brutal in losing to the San Jose Sharks Thursday — a team that had lost 12 straight. Two nights later, they faced the hottest team in hockey, and held their own. That’s been the season so far. It’s no accident that they have beaten the New York Rangers, Dallas Stars, the Winnipeg Jets twice.

The Canadiens play the best in the league as if they are among them. However, they play the worst in the league as if they are among them. They are a difficult team to understand. Whatever the case, it was enjoyable to watch the young Canadiens compete with such a good club. It surely will lead to more confidence, especially for the defencemen who can see they can matchup against McDavid, Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, Evander Kane who can bring so much offence to the game, and who were held to just one goal in regulation time.

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It was an impressive performance by the Canadiens against an outstanding team. It was almost as if the fear of what the Oilers can bring made everyone ready. From Michael Pezzetta to Brendan Gallagher, everyone brought the best they could. No goats in this one.

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It was just another Friday night in January in Laval.  The weather was cold and dreary. The roads were treacherous. Winter can feel overwhelming.

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On this difficult wintery night, an average hockey team named the Laval Rocket had a mid-season game at Place Bell and the place was absolutely packed.

At the end of the game, after a 5-2 win over Manitoba, no one left their seats. They wanted to watch the on-ice interview with Logan Mailloux. He’s a first round draft pick who had just been selected to go the American Hockey League all-star game in his first pro season.

Mailloux has an offensive game from the defence position. He can skate beautifully up ice with the puck. He has a cannon of a shot that he strikes accurately.

The crowd wanted to hear what he had to say after scoring a goal and being awarded the first star. Mailloux got asked a long question in French. He answered completely in French, a long complex sentence, with an excellent accent. The crowd absolutely loved it.

Mailloux was smiling from ear to ear. He could scarcely believe the support he’s been receiving, and this was the topper. It’s been a long road back for Mailloux. He committed a grievous sin and a crime. He hoped serving his penance would give him a second chance.

He hoped for a future. It felt in this moment as if it was given to him by the Laval fans to move forward trying to be better, encouraged to be a part of Montreal’s hockey organization. He has the skills do that. Mailloux offensively is a top-four NHL defender. However, he is not yet ready defensively. But he played his best pro game on Friday night. He has the potential to be a great one. When this Canadiens rebuild is complete, and 12 defenders with NHL potential is pared down to six, expect Mailloux to be among them.

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Brian Wilde, a Montreal-based sports writer, brings you Call of the Wilde on after each Canadiens game.

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