Call Of The Wilde: Buffalo Sabres hand the Montreal Canadiens another defeat

The Montreal Canadiens are getting more competitive by the game. They were looking for their first win for new head coach Martin St. Louis as the Buffalo Sabres rolled into the Bell Centre for an afternoon clash.

The Canadiens delivered an entertaining product again, but settled for their tenth straight loss. The Sabres won 5-3 win with Jeff Skinner scoring four times.

Wilde Horses 

After looking like a new player under Coach St. Louis, Cole Caufield was rewarded with a move to the first line, playing along side Nick Suzuki and Tyler Toffoli for the Sunday matinee affair. Caufield is usually a right winger, but he was put on the left side under the tutelage of St. Louis.

Always prevalent is the thought that someone with a high-quality shot should play on their off-wing, so they can take advantage of: first, receiving a pass on the rush that doesn’t cross the body, and, second, seeing more of the net with a more centrally located shot-view.

Story continues below advertisement

The drawback is the defensive clear on the boards with your back turned in retrieval. But the move shows a little about who St. Louis’s approach. A defensive coach would worry more about the difficulty of the defensive maneuver. An offensive coach lets that slide, so the player can enjoy the advantage accrued on the offensive side. It’s all about mindset.

St. Louis is doing all he can to get Caufield going. He was the best player in college hockey last season, and he can’t be allowed to languish while trying to figure it out all on his own. Like every player, he needs someone to help him develop. Caufield wasn’t brought here to be the best darn player on the half-wall break out in hockey. He was brought here to be one of the best darn scorers in hockey.

Under Dominique Ducharme, all Caufield was learning, it seemed, was to feel afraid he was going to make a mistake. Caufield seemed to be playing scared and continually on the back foot. Under St. Louis, Caufield has already looked like he is more confident. He wants the puck, and then when having it, he wants to hang on as long as it takes to make a strong play.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde – Canadiens vs Blue Jackets

St. Louis has brought back some energy to players who seemed to have checked out. Joel Armia hadn’t scored in 19 games, until he was in tight to give the Canadiens a 3-2 lead. Jeff Petry is having the worst season of his career, but he also scored for the new head coach. Even the most troubled look like they’re finding their way.

Story continues below advertisement

Wins are still going to be difficult, but under St. Louis so far, the compete is higher, the offence is more present, and the entertainment value is in a different stratosphere. The games are fun again, win or lose, and when you are in a rebuild that is all that you can ask for: entertain me and give me hope.

Wilde Goats 

I have never seen a bigger mystery than Jeff Petry this season. It is simply unheard of to have a player who many were touting for the Norris Trophy turn into a liability a season later. Petry was an excellent defender last season as the Canadiens made it to the finals. This season, he is beaten continually, gives up the puck constantly, passes it to the other team repeatedly.

He’s a mess. He doesn’t want to be here because his wife Julie and kids moved to the United States due to less restrictive COVID-19 rules. Watching his play, it seems loneliness has made him unmotivated.

At the same time, he is actually on the ice, getting a nice salary, so he should earn it by making the same good plays that he did before. His head can not be so out of the game. It’s a mystery.

His future should turn around when he plays with better teammates, has a better partner, and feels comfortable in his homeland. For now, in Montreal, it looks like an imposter is in his uniform.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde – Canadiens vs Capitals

Wilde Cards

The Canadiens have put Ben Chiarot on the injured reserve list after he suffered a lower-body injury in the contest against the Blue Jackets on Saturday.

Chiarot suffered the injury, then left the game for a short while before returning for the rest of the contest in the third period. Usually, when a player returns to the game, the injury is not significant, so we should expect Chiarot to be out for no longer than a week.

It also might be an opportunity for the organization to sideline Chiarot, considering he will be an important trading asset in the next five weeks. The one thing that they can’t do is let Chiarot get injured seriously, and lose the value he has on the trading market. He is expected to fetch at least a first round draft choice.

That’s how you rebuild your club over the years with high draft picks. If Chiarot were to get injured and become untradable at the deadline, it would be a potential seven-year loss. That is catastrophic managing. Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton simply can not let that happen.

It’s not likely that the management team would come out and say they purposely sidelined a player, but if that is what has happened, then kudos to them for their foresight.


Sponsored content