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Despite spending the week away from home the
Habs had little difficulty keeping up their winning ways, beating all but one of
their four opponents.  In Hamilton, the team is getting phenomenal
goaltending but a lack of offence is really hurting them.  As we approach
the trade deadline, there are all sorts of discussions about what Montreal
needs; my Final Thought discusses one that hasn’t been brought up too often.

Cheers
and Jeers

Cheers to…

1) Michael Ryder, who responded to being
benched the way any coach and fan dreams – producing in a big way.  He now
is the Habs’ assist and points leader, something I don’t think many foresaw
given his early performances.  Even more impressive is that he is doing so
on the left wing, a position he has seldom played in the NHL.

2) P.K. Subban, for forcing Michel Therrien’s
hand to play him more (although 26+ minutes per game as he played this past week
is a bit much).  He is picking and choosing his spots better with regards
to going for the big hit or pinch and his powerplay decision making is vastly
improved.

3) Peter Budaj, whose quality efforts over the
past week have afforded the Habs the opportunity to not use Carey Price as
often.  Given the latter’s recent struggles, this is something I hope the
team takes advantage of.  I’m not advocating a 50/50 split or anything
close to that, just an extra game every so often instead of just playing in
back-to-backs.

Jeers to…

1) Travis Moen, who seems to have completely
lost his way.  Not only is he not hitting or fighting (the last part
doesn’t bother me as much, he never fought all that much in recent years
anyways), he isn’t even generating anything offensively to compensate.  One
shot on net in eight games isn’t going to cut it.  Yes, he is playing well
defensively but for the commitment the team made to him last summer, more is
required.

2) Michel Therrien, who failed to take
advantage of an opportunity.  In the third period of Sunday’s game in
Florida, rookie d-man Greg Pateryn played all of three shifts, none in the final
twelve minutes.  With a huge lead and control of the game, that’s when he
should be playing more to help him get acclimated faster.  Instead, Subban
got needlessly double shifted.  It’s a minor complaint, but there isn’t a
whole lot to complain about at the moment.

3) The second line (based on ice time) of
Pacioretty-Desharnais-Gallagher, who followed up an impressive 17 point week
with a four point dud.  Fortunately, it didn’t come back to bite the team
too much.  It’s entirely unrealistic to expect the performance of two weeks
ago to be the norm but something in between that and four points is certainly
reasonable.

StatPack:

SKATERS


#

Player

GP
G A +/- PIM SH TOI
8 Brandon Prust 3 1 2 +3 0 3 46:52
11 Brendan Gallagher 4 1 1 -3 2 14 64:39
14 Tomas Plekanec 4 2 2 +3 4 10 69:57
20 Colby Armstrong 4 0 0 -1 0 6 41:04
21 Brian Gionta 4 3 2 +2 2 12 67:47
22 Tomas Kaberle 1 0 0 -2 0 0 11:42
26 Josh Gorges 4 0 1 +4 0 6 86:00
27 Alex Galchenyuk 4 0 1 +1 0 5 57:22
32 Travis Moen 4 0 0 -1 0 0 46:47
37 Gabriel Dumont 2 0 0 -1 2 3 22:16
51 David Desharnais 4 1 0 -3 2 5 65:17
53 Ryan White 3 0 0 E 2 0 29:02
55 Francis Bouillon 4 1 1 -1 4 5 54:57
64 Greg Pateryn 2 0 0 E 0 0 21:49
67 Max Pacioretty 4 0 1 -3 2 11 66:11
68 Yannick Weber 1 0 0 -1 2 0 7:35
73 Michael Ryder 4 2 6 +2 2 11 52:02
74 Alexei Emelin 4 1 2 +1 2 3 81:59
76 P.K. Subban 4 2 5 +1 0 17 104:46
79 Andrei Markov 4 0 4 -1 0 8 101:27
81 Lars Eller 4 1 2 +2 4 8 65:38

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
30 Peter Budaj 1-0-0 .875 2.00
31 Carey Price 2-0-1 .888 3.35

Scoring
Leaders:

Goals: Tomas Plekanec (11)
Assists: Michael Ryder (15)
Points: Michael Ryder (23)
+/-: Brendan Gallagher (+13)
PIMS: Brandon Prust (81) (League leader)
Shots: Tomas Plekanec (82)

Schedule:

March 13:
Ottawa vs Montreal
March 16: Montreal vs New Jersey

The Dog
Pound

Despite winning a pair of games, the Bulldogs’
slim playoff hopes took another nosedive.  The team finds itself 11 points
out of the final playoff spot with just 17 games remaining in the season.

News and
Notes:

– The defence, for the first time in a long
time, is fully healthy as both Jason DeSantis and Nathan Beaulieu returned to
action.

– Joey Tenute has a seven game point streak,
amassing ten points over that span. 

– All of Patrick Holland’s goals this season
have either tied the game (four) or stood as the game winner (three).

– Approximate lines from the most recent game:

Forwards:

Bournival – Tenute – Holland
Leblanc – Chaput – Blunden
Quailer – Leveille – Stortini
Hagel – Fortier – Lefebvre

Defence:

St. Denis – Beaulieu
Tinordi – Stejskal
Corbin – Ellis

Results:

March 5:
Hamilton
2, Abbotsford 0

March 8:
Grand Rapids
2, Hamilton 1

March 9:
Hamilton
3, Peoria 1

March 10:
Grand Rapids
4, Hamilton 1

StatPack:

SKATERS


#

Player

GP

G

A

+/-

SH

PIMS
2 Greg Pateryn 1 0 1 E 2 0
3 Antoine Corbin 1 0 0 -1 1 2
5 Jarred Tinordi 4 0 0 -1 7 2
6 Joe Stejskal 4 0 1 E 5 2
8 Nathan Beaulieu 4 0 1 +1 9 7
10 Stefan Chaput 4 0 1 -1 6 2
11 Joey Tenute 4 3 3 +1 6 12
12 Zack Stortini 4 0 0 E 2 11
13 Steve Quailer 4 0 0 E 7 5
14 Michael Blunden 4 1 0 -1 13 4
15 Kyle Hagel 4 0 0 E 1 7
16 Olivier Fortier 4 0 0 E 3 0
18 Michael Bournival 4 0 2 +3 8 0
19 Daultan Leveille 4 0 0 E 4 2
20 Louis Leblanc 4 1 0 -1 7 6
32 Frederic St. Denis 4 0 1 +1 3 2
37 Patrick Holland 4 2 2 +1 12 0
44 Morgan Ellis 4 0 0 E 2 2
49 Phillipe Lefebvre 4 0 0 E 4 2
58 Jason DeSantis 2 0 0 E 3 0

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
29 Robert Mayer 1-1-0 .945 2.50
34 Dustin Tokarski 1-1-0 .967 1.02

Scoring
Leaders:

Goals: Gabriel Dumont (15)
(Active Leader: Michael Blunden with 10)

Assists: Gabriel Dumont (15) (Active Leader: Michael Bournival, also with
15)

Points: Gabriel Dumont (30) (Active Leader: Blunden/Bournival with 22)
+/-: Nattinen/Tenute (+6)
PIMS: Zack Stortini (196)
Shots: Nathan Beaulieu (125)

Schedule:

March 15: Hamilton
vs St. John’s
March 16: Hamilton vs St. John’s

Final
Thought

Over the next few weeks, I’ll have
lots of trade deadline-specific notes and comments but there’s one area in
particular that I think the Habs need to address sooner than later that bears
mentioning here, and it may come as a bit of a surprise to you.  Despite
the team having eight NHL defencemen already, I think they need to acquire
another, particularly one that is comfortable playing the right hand side of the
ice.

Since Raphael Diaz went down, we
have learned or confirmed the following:

– Yannick Weber simply isn’t going
to cut it (I know he had sat for a long time before playing that one game but I
think he has lost the trust of the coaches) if injuries arise in the postseason.
– The team has little confidence in Tomas Kaberle.
– Francis Bouillon is quite uncomfortable playing his off-side (particularly
with the aforementioned Kaberle).
– Greg Pateryn may one day be a serviceable stay-at-home defenceman, but that
day isn’t here yet.

The remaining right hand options
on the farm aren’t reliable options either.  Morgan Ellis is the best of
the group but is far from being NHL ready, Jason DeSantis is a one-dimensional
defenceman who is struggling to crack the current lineup, and Joe Stejskal, who
has played more in the ECHL this year than the AHL.  None of those players
can be counted on right now.

Josh Gorges in the past has played
his off-side but has stated before that he is much more comfortable in his
natural spot.  He and P.K. Subban have played much better lately and I’m
not sure the team would be wise to mess with that chemistry.  When Diaz
returns, I think they’ll try pairing him up with Bouillon and if everyone stays
healthy from here on in, this won’t be a problem.

History tells us that more
injuries are bound to arise at some point which is why I’d like to see the Habs
be proactive here leading up to the deadline.  This isn’t an area of huge
need, so I’m not saying they should go after a big name player or someone that
will cost a lot to acquire.  But picking up a rental

If you have any questions/comments, please feel
free to drop me a line at [email protected]