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Call of the Wilde: Montreal Canadiens embarrass listless Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 – Montreal

Friday night was the final game of a four-game road trip for the Montreal Canadiens in Philadelphia.

Montreal managed to salvage a split with a 5-2 win over the Flyers, despite having 10 regulars out of the lineup.

Wilde Horses 

The effort the Flyers turned in was one of the worst that anyone who watched the game has ever seen in their hockey-loving lives.

You’ve seen faster turtles. You’ve seen harder-working sloths. You’ve seen more passion from sheep. The Flyers could not have beaten your beer league team, nor would they have tried.

Flyers fans should hope that their players were tanking for a higher draft pick, because if this is what trying looks like, they’re in some serious trouble. Gritty gave it a better effort in the stands.

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Change their name to the Philadelphia Eagles, because fans were chanting “Fly Eagles Fly” more than anything else. Perhaps the Philadelphia Tryptophan is appropriate — they were so sleepy.

The Canadiens players looked like they were on the verge of winning the Stanley Cup playing this group. Waiver-wire pick-up Chris Tierney scored, and was better than anyone in black. Nick Suzuki was skating circles around Ivan Provorov like the Russian needs to find a new country to play in.

David Savard pinched in from the point and scored. That’s how free everyone in red, white, and blue felt. That even the most stay-at-home defender Savard skated in happily to score from five feet.

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It was so bad at Wells Fargo Center that they couldn’t even be bothered to boo. The fans should have been given a refund for a game next season when they would have a better chance at watching a hockey team try.

John Tortorella is out of motivational speeches. All he can think of is taking away iPads at the bench. He’s out of actual ideas on the ice. The Flyers should fire him. Replace him with a coach who goes beyond yelling as a strategy, and blaming everyone else for the team’s failures.

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In fairness, the Flyers did put in five minutes of hard work. Their third period pushback was distinguished when Jesse Ylonen tipped a Justin Barron point shot for 4-1.  Rafael Harvey-Pinard claimed yet another point on 5-1 as he set up Josh Anderson for a gorgeous shot upstairs.

Martin St. Louis has his club playing like they care, even if half of that club is from the Laval Rocket. An American Hockey League team embarrassed the Flyers in their own building.

Many fans have been praying for the Canadiens to tank harder, but if tanking looks like that? Maybe the Canadiens have had the right idea all along, to show some promise for the future.

Can you imagine 82 games of that Flyers effort, Habs fans? Can you imagine how depressed you would feel about the future, if it looked like that?

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Wilde Goats 

How do you win games with injuries to 10 of your top players? Cole Caufield, Kirby Dach, Sean Monahan, Kaiden Guhle, Arber Xhekaj, Jake Evans, Joel Armia, Juraj Slafkovsky, Brendan Gallagher and Joel Edmundson are all out.

Somehow the Habs are doing it. Half the lineup is out, and they’re still completing .500 road trips. Remarkable.

Wilde Cards

This trading deadline is not going well for the Canadiens and the final stretch hasn’t even started yet. Injuries are the problem as Joel Edmundson and Sean Monahan still have not returned to the lineup with the deadline next Friday.

GM Kent Hughes has some flexibility, though, with both players for different reasons.

In the case of Edmundson, if he cannot get healthy in time, the Canadiens can take solace in the fact that they can try again next year. Edmundson has contract remaining, and at this point, his stock price isn’t high either. Edmundson has a chance of fetching a better return next season with clean health and better play.

In the case of Monahan who becomes an unrestricted free agent next season, Hughes can try to make a conditional trade. He would move Monahan with the return being contingent on how many games Monahan is able to play for his new team. Imagine a scenario where Monahan fetches a first if he is able to play Team X’s games, but a fourth if he remains on the sidelines.

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A healthy Monahan is highly sought after as the best centre available after Ryan O’Reilly was moved to Toronto, Bo Horvat was moved to Long Island, and Jonathan Toews declared himself unfit to play.

This leaves Josh Anderson remaining for trade and some players whose market is uncertain. Word is that there is very little interest in Mike Hoffman and Jonathan Drouin. Evgenii Dadonov is also drawing little interest, but slightly more than Hoffman and Drouin.

Hughes said that he wanted to get a third first-round draft pick this summer, and that means he would need to reconsider on Anderson. The NHL insiders say that Hughes has already turned down a first-round pick for Anderson, saying that was not a good enough return.

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It seems as if Hughes is holding out hope that Anderson can fetch two top assets: a first rounder and a top prospect. It’s a tall ask but Anderson is playing strong hockey right now. He is driving the net well. He is an excellent first forechecker on the rush. He is hitting.

Anderson is precisely the type of player who is extremely valuable when the playoffs start and the hockey gets heavier. A good example of a club that could use his talents is the New Jersey Devils who are a soft club up front and could very much use Anderson’s size.

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The Devils are likely to play the New York Rangers when the post-season starts and it’s hard to see Jersey winning that series with a line-up so lacking in sandpaper.

Anderson has big value, but does he have two top asset value? We will know next Friday afternoon how all of this shakes out for Montreal.

Hughes has been busy, efficient, and creative so far as a GM. Don’t underestimate his abilities this next week. He seems to find a way to get great things done.  He seems to be able to surpass and surprise all of us.

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

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