Call of the Wilde: Montreal Canadiens bested 6-3 by Philadelphia Flyers on home ice

The three coldest teams in the NHL are the Arizona Coyotes, Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers.

Not coincidentally, those three are at the bottom of the entire league, fighting for draft position as much as wins. The Flyers and Canadiens entered their contest both with six game losing skids, so something had to break.

It was the Flyers who ended their sad run with an impressive 6-3 win at the Bell Centre.

Wilde Horses 

One of the positives of this season for the Canadiens is the continued improvement of Jake Evans. The seventh-round draft pick isn’t a top-six forward, but he can be an extremely valuable centre slotted in the right spot.

It’s been thought that Evans was a fourth-line centre, but he might just be a solid third-line centre in the end. Evans has the fourth-highest goal total on the team with his second period deflection for his 12th of the season.

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The only concern for Evans is the difficulty he has staying healthy. He leaves himself in vulnerable spots with his head down, unaware of impending danger around him. It’s led to Evans taking a lot of head shots, and his brain has become vulnerable to concussion.

Read more: Call of the Wilde: Montreal Canadiens’ losing skid extended with 2-0 loss to Minnesota Wild

The issue for Evans and the Canadiens is sometimes he is asked to do too much.

Players excel when they are playing the right role. Playing in the right spot happens when a team is strong enough to put a player where he is comfortable. Evans can’t do 20 minutes against the world’s best players, but he can succeed against second tier players to be a valuable Canadien for years to come.

It appears that Marc Bergevin got this three-year contract right for Evans that kicks in at the end of this season. He belongs and he is still improving, even though he turns 26 in June.

It was a dicey contact when he signed it, but it appears that it is going to work out favourably for the club.

Wilde Goats 

It appears the officials don’t always even know the rules of the league. Mike Hoffman scored in the first period on a clear hand pass from Brendan Gallagher. Mike Yeo should have been able to challenge the call of hand pass with the officials who would have gone to the command centre in Toronto to look at it.

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All of this was confirmed by Pierre LeBrun of TSN who spoke with the league. This would have resulted in a call of no goal for the Canadiens.

Read more: Call Of The Wilde: Montreal Canadiens drubbed by the Washington Capitals

Yeo spoke to the official Eric Furlatt right after the goal. They had a long conversation, and you could see Furlatt say that Yeo was not allowed to challenge the call. However, he is allowed. This was also confirmed by the league.

This is downright embarrassing, but here’s the good news for the NHL. It was a completely irrelevant game to a playoff spot, but can you imagine if it were a team in ninth place trying to get to eighth and lost the game because they weren’t allowed to challenge.

Thankfully, no real harm was done.

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Wilde Cards 

The NHL made some rule changes to the draft lottery last March that will be implemented for the first time in 2022. These changes are going to be helpful to the Montreal Canadiens this May when they load the drum.

The recent new rules are that a club cannot drop more than two places from their finishing position, and any club that wins the lottery cannot leap more than 10 spots. Another new rule that is less likely to be implemented, but perhaps may be, is each club cannot win the lottery more than twice in a five-year period. That rule begins with this season.

All in all, the changes reward the poor teams to draft higher. That is something the Canadiens will surely take as they look forward to this July when the entry draft is at the Bell Centre.

What fans are not aware of when they consider the exciting possibility that Montreal will draft first is that is not likely to happen at all. In fact, Montreal is not even likely to hold its draft position, nevermind win number one. The more likely math is the Canadiens drop down one or two notches.

Read more: Call Of The Wilde: The return of Carey Price

Here is the math for the Canadiens if they finish second last, which looks quite likely considering the gap to clubs like the Flyers and Kraken: 14.5 per cent chance to draft first, 14 per cent chance to draft second, 30.5 chance to draft third, and 41 per cent chance to draft fourth.

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This is essentially a seven in 10 chance for Montreal to draft lower than the actual position attained. In my mind, the lottery still needs some work when it more likely that the second-worst team in the league drops spots, but the NHL is trying to create a scenario where it is not beneficial to tank.

Here’s the good news, though: The worst the Canadiens can draft now with the new rules is fourth and not fifth should they finish second-last. They’re going to get an outstanding player with a top four pick. That’s a terrific bottom line after this nightmare of a season.

Here’s even better news for Montreal hockey fans: Unlike the seasons that the Canadiens recently had a top three pick, taking Alex Galchenyuk and Jesperi Kotkaniemi. This season there are two highly-ranked centres in the top five, if not three. That’s a big change from the Galchenyuk and Kotkaniemi years.

Montreal wanted a centre badly those two drafts, but there was only one ranked top five in both of those drafts. In this draft, depending on your viewpoint, three high-quality centres are available in Shane Wright, Logan Cooley and Matthew Savoie.

If the Canadiens want a centre, they’re going to get one. If they draft forth and the centres are gone, they’ll still get a high quality player in someone like Juraj Slafkovsky. It’s a strong draft, and the Canadiens should add a very high-quality player.

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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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