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Sports Stu Cowan: Canadiens hold out hope for long win streak, playoff berth

12:37  21 january  2020
12:37  21 january  2020 Source:   montrealgazette.com

Stu Cowan: Canadiens fans are going to need a huge helping of patience

  Stu Cowan: Canadiens fans are going to need a huge helping of patience “A loss is a loss,” Max Domi said after the Canadiens dropped a 4-3 decision to the Red Wings Tuesday night in Detroit. That’s a fact — no matter how many goals you lose by — and the losses are piling up for the Canadiens. They head into Thursday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., TSN2, SNW, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM) on a seven-game winless streak (0-6-1) after suffering through an eight-game slump earlier in the season (0-5-3).

The Canadiens have given themselves — and their fans — some hope by winning four of their last five games. A little bit of hope . The Canadiens started their bye week in the NHL schedule after Saturday night’s wild 5-4 shootout win over the Vegas Golden Knights at the Bell Centre

16 as the Stars, playing their home finale, won for just the second time in 11 games — a slide that wiped out any realistic hopes of making the playoffs . Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou scored to help the Red Wings get their longest winning streak since a season-high four-game stretch Dec.

a person holding a stop sign in front of a crowd:  Canadiens’ Nick Cousins celebrates his goal against the Vegas Golden Knights with teammates during the first period at the Bell Centre on on Jan. 18, 2020.© Jean-Yves Ahern Canadiens’ Nick Cousins celebrates his goal against the Vegas Golden Knights with teammates during the first period at the Bell Centre on on Jan. 18, 2020.

The Canadiens have given themselves — and their fans — some hope by winning four of their last five games.

A little bit of hope.

The Canadiens started their bye week in the NHL schedule after Saturday night’s wild 5-4 shootout win over the Vegas Golden Knights at the Bell Centre, improving their record this season to 22-21-7.

After 50 games, the Canadiens have 51 points. After 50 games last season, the St. Louis Blues (23-22-5) also had 51 points and they went on to win the Stanley Cup. The Blues went 22-6-4 in their final 32 regular-season games to finish third in the Central Division with 99 points.

In the Habs' Room: Bounces just aren't going our way, Shea Weber says

  In the Habs' Room: Bounces just aren't going our way, Shea Weber says When you’re the best player in hockey, you tend to get the benefit of the doubt. And that was the case early in the third period of the Canadiens game against the Edmonton Oilers Thursday. Connor McDavid, who is the best player in the game, had a step on Phillip Danault and the Canadiens player tried to slow him with his stick. As McDavid struggled to keep his balance, the referee raised his arm to signal a hooking penalty on Danault. Thirty-nine seconds later, McDavid set up Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for a power-play goal to tie the game 2-2 and the Oilers went on to win 4-2.

The Montreal Canadiens (French: Les Canadiens de Montréal) are a professional ice hockey team based in Montreal, Quebec. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of

PLAYOFF STREAK : A salute to the Red Wings' 21-season streak . Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers described his team's effort as "probably the most The 26 wins are the Canadiens ' most through 40 games since the 1978-79 season, when they got off to a 27-8-5 start, according to STATS.

It took 98 points to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference last season. The Canadiens would need 47 points in their final 32 games to hit that mark — a record equivalent to 22-7-3. It’s very, very unlikely that will happen with a team whose longest winning streak this season has been three games and has endured two eight-game winless streaks.

But, like I said, there’s a little bit of hope thanks in large part to Ilya Kovalchuk, who has 4-4-8 totals in eight games since joining the Canadiens. Still, the Canadiens only have a 4-4 record during those games.

Another reason for a bit of hope is that Carey Price is 4-0 in his last four games while allowing only six goals on 148 shots for a .959 save percentage. The Canadiens also seem to have fixed their penalty-killing — which was a huge problem early in the season — fending off 24 of 26 opposition power plays over the last nine games. Their play on home ice remains a big problem with a 10-12-4 record at the Bell Centre.

Montreal Canadiens' Gallagher won't play in Ottawa

  Montreal Canadiens' Gallagher won't play in Ottawa OTTAWA — To no one’s surprise, Brendan Gallagher will not be in the Montreal Canadiens lineup for Saturday’s game against the Ottawa Senators (7 p.m., CBC, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio). “He’s still being examined by doctors,” coach Claude Julien said following an optional morning skate on Saturday. Gallagher suffered a concussion on New Year’s Eve in Carolina. He missed four games but returned for Thursday’s home game against Edmonton. He played “He’s still being examined by doctors,” coach Claude Julien said following an optional morning skate on Saturday.

The Canadiens are only six points behind the Florida Panthers, who are third in the Atlantic Division, and eight points behind the Carolina Hurricanes, who hold the last wild-card berth in the East. But the key is the number of teams between Montreal and those spots.

Good win for our city and our loyal fan base. For them, as much as getting into the playoffs is Way to go, Mac: No one hopes for an injury to another player, least of all a starting goaltender, but Man on a mission: Lost in the theatrics of the third period is how James van Riemsdyk came out of the

The Canadiens are hoping to have the injured Jonathan Drouin and Brendan Gallagher back when they play their next game next Monday night at the Bell Centre against the Washington Capitals, but there’s no guarantee that will happen. Drouin is skating and shooting pucks again, but hasn’t practised with the team or been given the green light for contact. Gallagher has only played one of the last 10 games after suffering a concussion.

Canadiens head coach Claude Julien thinks the bye week will help his team.

“There’s a price to pay for a break,” Julien said following Saturday’s morning skate in Brossard. “Part of it was lots of games crammed together. But I think the guys are going to benefit from the rest. For the most part, what we’ve seen in the past is that guys come back fresh and they’re able to give it another push. So there’s some positive in there. But as you know, there’s some games that are crammed together (because of the bye week) and it’s tough on players and sometimes it also creates injuries. So you know there’s different opinions out there (about the bye week) and I’m not one to choose which one. I’m just one to try and deal with what has been given. That’s the schedule we have and you make the most of it. But without a doubt I think a lot of guys are going to benefit from this break coming up.”

In the Habs' Room: Ilya Kovalchuk cements his place on the team with OT winner

  In the Habs' Room: Ilya Kovalchuk cements his place on the team with OT winner OTTAWA — Ilya Kovalchuk picked the perfect time to score his first goal as a Canadien. He scored on a breakaway with 51.9 seconds remaining in overtime Saturday to give the Canadiens a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. The winning goal came after Kovalchuk was stopped by Marcus Hogberg on an earlier breakaway in the overtime. “I really wanted to get out there one more time and the coach put us out there,” Kovalchuk said. “There was kind of a broken play when their (defenceman) took a step back and I took off. Phil (Danault) was coming with me to make it a 2-on-1, but I said in my head I’m going to shoot this one.

The Montreal Canadiens are the second Canadian team to clinch a spot in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs , they did it on home ice, and the fans showed their

Wayne Simmonds helped the Flyers clinch the second wild card spot with two goals in a 3-1 victory against the Penguins at Wells Fargo Center.

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Julien was also looking forward to the break, along with his coaching staff.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I’m going to be honest with you, we’ve grinded a lot trying to turn some of these winless streaks into wins and we’ve grinded it out as far as watching lots of video and trying to help individuals, trying to help the team. So, yeah, we’re going to benefit from this break and hopefully we come back fresh as well and ready to tackle that last part.”

Last season, the Canadiens were 3-0-2 in their first five games after the bye week and then lost three straight.

“I’m not a huge fan of the bye week,” veteran centre Nate Thompson said. “I think if you’re going on a roll … I guess it can be good, or it can be bad. But I think it’s good for our team. Some guys are banged up, there’s some injuries. Hopefully we can get some healthy bodies back after the break.

“We’ve had a pretty rigorous schedule here, so I think it will be good to have a few days to just kind of reset the body,” added Thompson, who headed back to his off-season home in Hermosa Beach, Calif., for the break. “Go back, relax and probably skate a couple of times, too, and work out so I’m not dying when I come back. You’ve definitely got to make sure that you’re staying on top of things when you’re having this break so you’re not shaking off so much rust when you get back.”

As for the Canadiens’ playoff hopes, Thompson said: “I think we’re right there. You see in this league if you can rip off a streak, you’re right back in the mix. I think that’s where our mindset is right now.”

That’s a lot easier said than done.

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

Jakub Vrana extends point streak, leads Capitals over Canadiens 4-2 .
MONTREAL — Jakub Vrana scored and added an assist as the conference-leading Washington Capitals extended their win streak to four games with a 4-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night. Tom Wilson, Travis Boyd and Nicklas Backstrom, into the empty net, also scored for the Capitals (34-11-5), who were without Alex Ovechkin for the first time this season. T.J. Oshie had two assists. Jeff Petry and Dale Weise scored for the Canadiens (22-22-7), who came into the game 10 points out of a playoff spot.Braden Holtby made 31 saves and improved to 14-2-2 all-time versus Montreal. Carey Price stopped 37-of-40 shots in defeat.

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