Call of the Wilde: Montreal Canadiens shock the Colorado Avalanche

The five-game road trip is finally over for the Montreal Canadiens.

None of the clubs they faced were under .500 on the season, yet the Canadiens managed five out of a possible 10 points. The best result was the last contest on Tuesday, when Montreal beat red-hot Colorado in Denver, 2-1. The Avs winning streak ended at nine games thanks to the hard-working Canadiens.

Wilde Horses

Juraj Slafkovsky has done it. The greatest scoring season for a teenager in the 115-year history of the Canadiens is now held by Slafkovsky with 40 points. Slafkovsky moved ahead of Mario Tremblay, who had 39 points in a season before turning 20.

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Slafkovsky has one more chance to add to the total with a game on Thursday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. He turns 20 on Saturday. Slafkovsky has a point in eight consecutive games. That’s remarkable, considering the Canadiens had debated sending him to the minors early in the season.

Slafkovsky had the primary assist on Nick Suzuki’s 29th goal of the season. Suzuki now has career highs this year in goals and in points, as he now has 67 on the season. With 10 games left in the year, Suzuki will shatter his previous mark, as he continues to elevate his game.

The scuttlebutt around the league is that Suzuki would be a perfect player for Canada at the Olympics due to his ability to play lower in the line-up, taking care of defensive responsibilities so well. People are finally starting to take notice of how special a player Suzuki is with his complete-game package.

While Suzuki is no Connor McDavid or Nathan McKinnon, he could be an outstanding fourth line centre for a Canadian team looking to defend a lead or match up against other nations’ best centres. Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, and Brayden Point are others who will be considered, but two of those three could be aging out by Olympics time.

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Speaking of possible Olympians that are Canadiens, Samuel Montembeault will get some nods as one of the three goaltenders. Montembeault will contest with Tristan Jarry and Adin Hill, as our nation is quite weak in net with the retirement of Carey Price and the aging of Marc-Andre Fleury.

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Montembeault is coming into his prime as evidenced by another sparkling performance against the Avalanche. Montembeault was busy keeping the Canadiens in it while they were dominated statistically, except in the all-important goals category. Montembeault and the Canadiens stole another one.

Wilde Goats

While the Canadiens are in the bottom quarter of the standings, they compete thoroughly every single game. With just a little more offence, they could be so much higher in the standings. The Canadiens have lost by one goal 22 times this season.

That total doesn’t include all the games that the Canadiens lost by more than one goal because of an empty netter. That means there have been about 30 games this year where one more Montreal goal could have meant a result in the standings.

The Canadiens are not that far from having much loftier goals next season than a great draft pick. Another example was the tremendous effort in the Canadiens taking down the Avalanche who are one of the best in the league.

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There are no goats on a team working this hard. With just a small increase in talent on the second line next season, it could be quite different than this year. GM Kent Hughes knows he needs more scorers, and he has the defenders to trade. The summer could be exhilarating.

Wilde Cards

Credit is due to the Canadiens organization for creating such a popular product at the AHL level. The parent club looked for years and years for a fit for their minor league team, and never did they get it right.

From Hamilton to Newfoundland, nothing landed successfully to excite fans. Finally, the winning recipe has been found at the last stop on the metro’s orange line.

The Laval Rocket is a massive success in a league with many attendance woes. In Belleville and Toronto last weekend, half the arena was empty. In Belleville, for example, the arena itself has only a 4,365 capacity, and they were far from filling it.

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In Laval, it’s close to sold out every game. As the playoffs approach, the popularity is surging. It will be close to completely sold out for the rest of the season.

Friday night, the Rocket have a big game with playoff implications. It is sold out. Over 10,000 will be in attendance.

With tickets so hard to find, the secondary market is exploding. The cheapest ticket on StubHub at the moment of writing this Call Of The Wilde was $160. This is for a $33 ticket.

These prices are for a minor league team. Owner Geoff Molson must be ecstatic. While the playoff money in Montreal hasn’t been rolling in, he has found a gold mine only 20 minutes out of town. The atmosphere is electric, and the product is top-notch to cheer for an exciting team full of top prospects.

May they live long in Laval and prosper. Oh, and make the playoffs!

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Call of the Wilde

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

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