The final week of the season for the Montreal Canadiens sees three games starting with the Maple Leafs in Toronto. The Leafs standing as second in the Atlantic is assured, so the Canadiens were hoping to seize on their indifference as they tried to stay healthy for the playoffs.
However, Montreal found no indifference or boredom in Toronto’s game. Instead, they found a club that wanted to show they’re ready for the playoffs. The Leafs coasted to a 7-1 win.
This last stretch has been a hunt trying to find heroes among the Canadiens. They just don’t have the talent collectively, considering so many players out there are regulars in the American Hockey League.
One man who has made this look a lot better than it would have been all season is goaltender Samuel Montembeault. It took Montembeault until 25 years of age to find the form many believed he had when he was drafted in the third round.
Now that Montembeault feels emotionally comfortable, he is finding his physical form. Save percentage is the most common stat for goalies in the league, but the real statistic that should be the go-to is Goals Saved Above Expected. It’s a stat that incorporates the difficulty of the shot.
Think of diving where one diver twists and turns seven rotations while another diver just swans to the water surface. They then get the same score of 10 because they both did the dive perfectly. That would hardly be fair to the diver incorporating the difficult. That’s why ‘degree of difficulty’ is computed into the final diving score.
A save from 50 feet and a save from 5 feet is assessed equally in the simple save percentage statistic. With Goals Saved Above Expected computing the degree of difficulty, Montembeault turns into a top-ten goalie this season. He gets the assessment that he deserves after an outstanding season of stealing wins that the Canadiens didn’t deserve.
Montembeault faced a barrage from the Maple Leafs in this one, and he held in just like he has all season keeping the game from getting embarassing. The quality of shot that he faced was frighteningly high. The Canadiens defenders allowed Toronto to find the slot and front of the net all night. The shots on goal were 47-21 Toronto.
Montembeault has to be one of the top three stars of the season for Montreal.
With more than half of the regulars injured and out for the rest of the season, it’s almost cruel to write a long list of faults. Putting any of this under a magnifying glass is inappropriate. This has been poor. Nothing else should be expected as this season concludes.
When the Canadiens rise up in this rebuild in two or three years, only two of these forwards of the 12 seen tonight will be good enough to be on this roster, so there’s no point criticizing the other ten.
So we won’t.
The playoffs are in full swing in junior hockey, so that means a lot of success for Canadiens prospects these days. It is going extremely well for all of them.
Joshua Roy completed an outstanding season in Sherbrooke and has amped it up even higher in the first round. Roy and the Phoenix swept Blainville-Boisbriand in four easy games. Roy had five goals and five assists as he was a dominant force yet again.
Another in the Quebec Junior playoffs shining is Riley Kidney who has absolutely ripped it since being traded to Gatineau. The Olympiques dispatched of the Saint John Sea Dogs in five games. Kidney had two goals and seven assists for nine points in five games.
Big success in Ontario as well for the Canadiens prospects. Filip Mesar got only one goal but played well leading the Kitchener Rangers to a shocker over the Windsor Spitfires. Shane Wright’s top ranked team was upset by the number eight seed in a four game sweep.
That upset made the road to success for the London Knights easier to attain. The MVP of that club this year, Logan Mailloux, had a terrific series closing out game four with a four point night on two goals and two assists. The Knights swept out the Owen Sound Attack. It is Mailloux against Mesar as the Knights and the Rangers meet in the second round.
Other prospects in Ontario still alive are Owen Beck with three points in four games for Peterborough as they handled Oshawa, and Vinzenz Rohrer had six in five games for Ottawa who just won their series Saturday afternoon over Oshawa.
That’s six important junior hockey prospects for the Canadiens and all six are already through to the second round of the playoffs.