Three days before turning off the ice in the first period of his first game back from an extended layoff, Jake Allen reveals what the rest of this Montreal Canadiens season is really like.
The 31-year-old goaltender, who suffered a lower-body injury after scoring two goals off Brad Marchand in 15 seconds of Montreal’s 5-1 loss to the Boston Bruins, said: “It doesn’t matter whether it’s a win or a loss. point,” and to do so refreshingly, reality-based, honest, and appropriately, the Canadiens needed to re-establish good habits and focus their energies on building an attitude and identity that would Will resonate beyond this season. And while it was exceptionally rare, if not unheard of, to ask a player to play 48 games, Allen had earned the right.
He has been a good soldier throughout the season. With Carey Price absent, with the worst goal support in the NHL in front of him, he took all the shots and pushed away more of them than anyone could have hoped for. He has shown up every day and done his job without complaint, operating himself like a true professional, consistently maximizing himself and playing the role of a Stanley Cup-winning role model.
If Allen’s remarks had come from someone else’s, they could have been seen as towels tossed on canvas. But they meant something to him because his dedication has been beyond reproach.
Wednesday’s match was no exception. On Marchand’s first goal of the game, Allen stretched and clearly made some turns in his attempt to stop the puck. He won, was slow to get back on his feet, but tried to keep fighting.
When Marchand scored seconds later, when Allen’s injury markedly impeded his movement, the goalkeeper realized he could do more damage to the Canadiens by trying to stiffen it. After Bench discussed it with trainer Graham Rainbend, he pulled himself out of the game.
It was a team-first move from a man who emphatically added to his view on Sunday the point that it was time for the Canadians, even from the NHL’s dungeon, to take the blue-collar character off the ground. To rediscover who joined them as a team. On his run in last year’s cup final.
Allen did not specify what he did because he was under some illusion that successfully pulling it off would lead to some miraculous turnaround and a playoff berth. He said this because he believes it will provide the best possible environment for future key pillars Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Alex Romanov and Kayden Primo (among others) to continue their growth.
His comments were pointed towards team veterans, some of whom he didn’t need to hear.
Joel Armia is the one who did.
The talented Finn has been given every chance by Dominic Ducharme to turn into the player everyone wants, and on Wednesday he was given another chance in Boston.
With Christian Dvorak and Jonathan Drouin dressed as the Canadiens on one of two All-NHL trios, it was a chance for Armia to undo some bad habits that have ruled their game since the season began.
What did he do with it? Nothing good
“Tonight,” said Ducharme, “I don’t think he had his best game.”
The six-foot-three, 218-pound winger, who came this season with one goal and five points in 30 contests, was given 19 shifts, 13:29 total and 1:21 on the power play. Armia, who signed a four-year $13.6 million contract during the off-season, responded with zero shot attempts in the game.
He was on the ice for two of Boston’s four even-strength goals, and he was at the center of the night’s most lackluster sequence for anyone in Canadian uniform.
The score was 3-0 Boston before Marchand scored a shorthand goal that gave him a hat-trick, and Armia could have been there to stop him. Never mind that Marchand intervened with him in neutral territory, as Armia still had time to return to the position. Instead, he pulled on the drama. The game was within reach before this happened, but dropped out completely after that.
And something really important followed. Armia’s power play opportunity was taken away and given to a player who was doing exactly what Allen was talking about the other day.
Ducharme’s decision to replace Michael Pezzetta Armia may have been the most important decision of all season, because if the Canadiens are going to do what Allen rightly said, the coach needs to establish a qualification. .
What seems clear is that he now has the authority to do so.
“He was more deserving than the others,” Ducharme said of Pezzetta. “Ultimately, as more players return—I hope we don’t lose others—it will be a competition to stay on the ice and play a role here.”
Pezzetta took an early lead in that competition.
He has immense skill, but it is not enough to produce less than 100 percent. And the identity of this 23-year-old player got him power play time.
It earned Pezzetta seven innings in the third period, and it earned him even more respect from a room full of people already pulling in to succeed.
“That’s where I am,” he said. He said, ‘I have to play 100 percent in every innings. Never know what’s going to come tomorrow, especially if you’re a person like me, and it’s like every day is a test for me. So, for me, I just try to go out there and get 100 percent. I can’t control some things, but I know I can control how hard I work and how heartily I play, and I never want anyone to question it. So, for me it’s just come out, bring that intensity, bring that heart, bring that fire and we’ll see what happens from here. ,
someone like me.
Anyone who knows Tyler Toffoli, Josh Anderson, Brendan Gallagher and Paul Byrne are coming off the injured reserve list soon. Anyone who paid attention to the Canadiens claimed a pre-game waiver to Rem Pittlick. Someone who sees how hard Lucas Vejdemo and Laurent Dauphin are trying to challenge him for a regular spot.
Pezzetta is someone who, after scoring his first NHL goal against these same Bruins, gave every one of his skeptics a chance to tell them they should never have bet against him.
On Wednesday, when asked to explain the “someone like me” qualifier, Pezzetta said, “I’m a young boy.”
“Obviously, I started in the AHL this year and I’m struggling to be part of the Montreal Canadiens every single day,” he continued. “I want to be in this team, I want to be in the NHL, so it’s not going to be an easy day for me. Obviously new players are coming in. Some people are coming back from injury. And I want to play on this team.” I want to, so I’m trying to do everything I can.
That’s what Allen is about for the rest of this season, as described by Allen.
Armia quickly recognized this better. And he’s not alone.