Call of the Wilde: Montreal Canadiens end road trip with overtime loss to Winnipeg Jets

The Montreal Canadiens came up short against the Jets in Winnipeg Thursday night, losing 3-2 in the final contest of a four-game road trip.

It was the first game of the season for the finally healthy Joel Edmundson, pushing Chris Wideman to the sidelines for the contest. Edmundson paired with Arber Xhekaj and they had a solid game.

Edmundson returned after a long battle with a back injury. He played a regular shift, blocked shots, led rushes and had an outstanding night. Edmundson and the Canadiens fought hard, but lost on a Kyle Connor overtime winner.

Wilde Horses 

There’s an old hockey saying that goes “you can’t find team success when only one line is scoring.” So far, the Canadiens are mocking that old saying.

The Canadiens have scored 30 goals this season, and their top line has 15 of the goals. Mostly, that’s Cole Caufield with seven goals, Nick Suzuki with six and Kirby Dach helping out with two. That is half of the goals this season, yet, overall, the team is finding success.

The Suzuki goal to open the scoring was the same two connecting again. Caufield got a nice up-ice pass from David Savard where he one-timed a cute little between the legs pass at the blue line to a streaking Suzuki. He beat the defenceman wide, protected the puck by widening his stance on the way by, then sublimely flicked it over the shoulder of the goaltender.

It was a high-talent goal for the Canadiens captain. In the second period, he followed it up by taking a pass from Caufield. His shot was stopped but Dach scored on the rebound.

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Suzuki leads the team in scoring with 13 points. Caufield is only a single point back. Third is Dach with seven points. One line. One amazing line. If another line can help out a little bit, the Canadiens might just be much, much better than the pre-season forecasts.

Because in the long run, the old adage will prove to be true. One line can not get three goals per night, and it’s going to take three goals to win games. It just is not possible. If it were, you would hear about players with over 200 points in a season.

As it is though, 13 in 11 for Suzuki, 12 in 11 for Caufield – those are some remarkable totals at the end of the season.

Wilde Goats 

I spent much of last season trying to learn the NHL rules on goaltender interference. I even had many conversations with two former NHL referees trying to finally get to the bottom of this huge hockey mystery.

The message sent to me by the two refs was basically quite simple and exactly the same: if the player is in the crease occupying space that is the goaltender’s, then the goal will be disallowed.

However, no matter how many times one views the second goal scored by the Jets Thursday night, Blake Wheeler is in the crease pushing on Sam Montembeault. Not only that, he is pushing Montembeault right out of his crease. That seems to be the only way to score on the hot Montembeault these days.

There are allowances if the player is pushed hard into the goalie and has no ability to extricate himself from the contact because of it. That is not the case on this play.

Head Coach Martin St. Louis seemed to agree with the two former NHL referees on the simple philosophy. If Montembeault is outside of his crease trying to make a save, it is likely that there will be no ruling in his favour. However, if he is in his own crease trying to stop the puck and is touched or impeded, then it will be the goalie who wins the decision.

It was ruled a goal. Somehow.

The Canadiens lost the challenge and then got a minor penalty also. Oh well, on to the next goaltender interference call that everyone has absolutely no idea how they came to their decision.

Wilde Cards

With the return of Joel Edmundson, the Canadiens brass had a difficult decision to make. They had to decide who would either go down to the minors, or who would be put on the waiver wire.

It was a difficult choice. If they moved someone like Arber Xhekaj to Laval, it would send the wrong message considering he has been playing strong hockey. If they sent someone to the waiver wire, they would lose a player.

Neither of the options was attractive at all. They chose instead a third option that no one was contemplating. They found a sick player with a mysterious ailment and they put him on the injured reserve list.

Even though Evgenii Dadonov was practicing the last couple of days and seemed to be in good health, he was put on IR with a virus. Obviously, it’s difficult to nail down just how bad this virus is that allows him to practice, but that’s what they’re going with, and you have to give them credit for the creativity.

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The only drawback is now the NHL has to figure out how to close the loophole in the middle of a long-running collective bargaining agreement.

Dadonov will likely be on this injured reserve list with this virus until someone gets injured down the lineup allowing Dadonov to feel better. That’s the supposition anyway. It’s difficult to nail down exactly how this is working, and that’s just fine for the Canadiens. They have no trouble with the mystery.

Perhaps, it is only a short term solution to a longer term issue. Mike Matheson will also return to the lineup at some point creating another difficult decision for Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton.

The truth is, in the long history of the Canadiens, what usually happens here is a different player gets injured, and a difficult decision doesn’t even have to be made. This happened to Marc Bergevin often in the last decade. In those instances, you could actually see the injury happen on the ice; not a player practicing with good energy in the morning and put on the injured list in the afternoon. That’s hockey.

In the long run, Dadonov needs to play better, so Montreal has some return value for him at the trading deadline. No one would give the Canadiens a draft choice from any round at this moment. If you can’t find a fourth-line roster spot on the Canadiens, it’s highly unlikely you can find a spot on the Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers or any other club headed to the playoffs.

Stay tuned. This could get interesting.

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

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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