Call of the Wilde: Flames best Canadiens 5-2 – Montreal

The Montreal Canadiens were back on the road Saturday night with a date in Calgary. The Flames have spent the season trading away their players, but they’re still playing well overall. Calgary posted a 5-2 win.

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It was another contest where it was clear the true remaining issue for the Canadiens this rebuild is secondary scoring. Basically, every game it’s the number one line providing the goals and possession.

In the first period, the Flames had no answer for Nick Suzuki, Juraj Slafkovsky and Cole Caufield. They dominated every shift. When they left the ice, Calgary had the better luck.

In the second period, Caufield finally broke a scoreless drought with his first goal in 13 games. The goal came on a two-on-one as Suzuki delivered a pass to Caufield who set up early to take a one-timer standing still.

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This is a lost art form of two-on-one that was perfected by Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri, who were unstoppable on the odd-man rush. Caufield didn’t just rush hard to the net allowing the defender to angle him out and force the Suzuki shot. He changed the angle to get a wide-open look, then he wired it.

The primary objective of a two-on-one is to successfully execute a cross-ice pass, which is easily the most difficult save for an NHL goalie. Suzuki and Caufield executed that as well as can be done.

Another noteworthy performance for the Canadiens came from Joshua Roy, who continues to find the NHL a league he can handle. Roy made a one-on-one heading into the offensive zone where he did a spinerama that was outstanding.

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Also improving his play recently is Rafael Harvey-Pinard. He was instrumental on the second goal, winning the puck in the corner, so David Savard could score on a point shot. On defence, the partnership of Jayden Struble and Jordan Harris was outstanding, calling into question again who will be the top-six defenders when the rebuild is over.

Some nights it feels like Harris and Struble could be out of the mix, then they’re the best on the team for a game. No one can say who has the highest ceiling of the 12. They all have to keep playing, but 12 doesn’t fit into six, so this is going to get interesting as soon as next year. GM Kent Hughes has a difficult task in front of him.

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Just before game time, the Canadiens announced Martin St. Louis is taking an indefinite leave of absence. The news release was sparse and did not detail anything beyond him leaving for family reasons.

There was no indication that anything was amiss, so it comes as a shock that St. Louis is leaving the club without a known return date. St. Louis was in Calgary and scheduled to be behind the bench for the Saturday night game against the Flames. Assistant coach Trevor Letowski is taking over behind the bench.

It will not be easy to keep things in the dark, especially about someone who is so cared about in the community. Appearing on TVA at the first intermission, Canadiens defenceman David Savard said that it was difficult to learn of the news, and the team was going to try to win the game for Marty’s son. Beyond that there is no other information available.

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It is expected an update will be coming soon about the future of David Reinbacher. The first round pick last June has concluded his season in the Swiss League, and is free to continue in North America.

The Laval Rocket are in the midst of a playoff fight in the North Division, and they could certainly use his talents as they make a push to the post-season. Reinbacher could use the time in Canada, as well, to improve his game, and see what the sport is like in the American Hockey League.

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Reinbacher did not have the best of seasons in Switzerland, but in his defence, he was on a terrible team. This is a challenge always for a defender because pressure just keeps coming with no support around the ice.

The right side of the defence would certainly be the strongest that Laval has ever seen should Reinbcher come for the home stretch. Logan Mailloux and Justin Barron are already policing that part of the rink. Reinbacher’s arrival would make that a remarkable trio of talent.

Laval is playing much better in the second half of the season, after a horrid first half. Should they make the playoffs, they could definitely surprise.

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

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