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The Habs just keep getting it done. 
Another two games, another two wins, and another week the team sits atop the
Northeast Division.  For the Bulldogs, it was the polar opposite. 
Another two games, another two losses, and another week the team is in the
conference basement.  With the trade deadline fast approaching, my Final
Thought discusses why it’s worth keeping an eye on the races to make the
postseason and how that could affect their trade strategy.

Cheers
and Jeers

Cheers to…

1) Jarred Tinordi, who acquitted himself well
in his NHL debut.  There are two things he can contribute to the lineup
right now and it’s not the two many fans are clamouring for (hitting and
fighting).  He can use his size to help clear the crease and if he stays up
long enough, log some minutes shorthanded to give some of the other blueliners a
shift off here and there.  If he can do just those two things, he’ll endear
himself well to the coaches.

2) Lars Eller and in particular, his terrific
game against the Senators which warrants special mention.  Last year, we
were seeing flashes of his potential but very infrequently.  Lately, he has
been one of the Habs’ more imposing players on a regular basis.  I’m glad
he responded well to being benched, it seems to have brought out the best in
him.

3) Gabriel Dumont, for giving the coaches
something to think about when it comes down to who gets sat down as players
return from injury.  I still think he’ll ultimately be the odd man out but
he has played well in a couple of different roles since being recalled.

Jeers to…

1) The penalty kill, which has been nothing
short of anemic lately.  In the past four games, it’s operating at a
success rate of 55.6%; in the past six games, it’s not much better, 66.7% (12/18
overall).  This isn’t something I’d advocate doing often but this would be
an instance where reviewing the game film from 2011-12 would be beneficial. 
Go back to what worked last season.

2) I really don’t want to do this, but Alex
Galchenyuk.  He seems to have skated head first into the proverbial rookie
wall.  At the beginning of the year, he was aggressive and eager to shoot
but that doesn’t seem to be the case right now.  Instead, he seems more
content to pass it off.  He has failed to record a shot in seven games this
year but four of those have been in the past eight games.  He has a lethal
shot, we’ve all seen it.  He needs to stop being so selective and let it
fly.

3) The struggles to close out games in the
third period.  Against Ottawa, the Habs blew a 3rd period lead.  Two
games before that, they nearly let Florida back into the game.  A few games
before that, they allowed three unanswered to the Islanders.  Fortunately,
two of those still resulted in wins but this is still an area that could use
some improvement.

StatPack:

SKATERS


#

Player

GP
G A +/- PIM SH TOI
11 Brendan Gallagher 2 1 0 E 0 4 31:16
14 Tomas Plekanec 2 1 1 +1 0 5 42:15
20 Colby Armstrong 2 1 0 +1 4 3 18:06
21 Brian Gionta 2 0 0 +1 0 1 40:44
26 Josh Gorges 2 0 1 E 0 4 46:24
27 Alex Galchenyuk 2 0 0 +1 0 1 25:53
32 Travis Moen 2 0 0 +1 4 0 28:33
37 Gabriel Dumont 2 0 1 +1 0 5 24:45
42 Jarred Tinordi 1 0 1 +2 0 0 14:48
45 Michael Blunden 1 0 0 +1 0 0 7:49
51 David Desharnais 2 0 0 E 0 3 35:17
53 Ryan White 2 0 0 +1 2 1 18:00
55 Francis Bouillon 2 0 0 +2 0 2 33:00
64 Greg Pateryn 1 0 0 E 0 0 6:59
67 Max Pacioretty 2 0 1 -1 0 10 35:07
73 Michael Ryder 1 0 0 E 0 2 15:29
74 Alexei Emelin 2 0 0 E 4 2 42:37
76 P.K. Subban 2 1 1 +1 0 10 53:23
79 Andrei Markov 2 0 1 -1 2 3 53:11
81 Lars Eller 2 1 0 +1 0 11 33:23

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
31 Carey Price 2-0-0 .938 1.93

SHOOTOUT
– SKATERS

# Player G/ATT
27 Alex Galchenyuk 1/1
51 David Desharnais 0/1
81 Lars Eller 1/1

SHOOTOUT
– GOALIES

# Player SVS/ATT
31 Carey Price 2/3

Scoring
Leaders:

Goals: Tomas Plekanec (12)
Assists: Michael Ryder (15)
Points: Michael Ryder (23)
+/-: Brandon Prust (+13)
PIMS: Brandon Prust (81) (League leader)
Shots: Pacioretty/Plekanec (87)

Schedule:

March 19:
Buffalo vs Montreal
March 21: Montreal vs NY Islanders
March 23: Buffalo vs Montreal

The Dog
Pound

For anyone who was holding out hope for a
playoff miracle for the Bulldogs, those hopes were dashed after a pair of tough
losses in St. John’s, including one where they lost with under 30 seconds
remaining in regulation time.

News and
Notes:

– Jason DeSantis is not with the team for
personal reasons and is out indefinitely.  Defenceman Peter Merth signed a
PTO to take his place on the roster.

– Petteri Nokelainen joined the team after
clearing waivers on Friday.  He made his first appearance in the AHL since
the 2007-08 season (with the Providence Bruins).

– Joey Tenute’s seven game point streak
(Hamilton’s longest on the season) was snapped in Friday’s loss to the IceCaps.

– With Jarred Tinordi up with the big club,
Greg Pateryn is wearing one of the A’s as alternate captain.

– Forward Tyler Murovich was released from his
PTO late Sunday night.

– Approximate lines from the most recent game
(they were tweaked as the game progressed):

Forwards:

Bournival – Tenute – Holland
Chaput – Nokelainen – Leblanc
Quailer – Fortier – Stortini
Hagel – Murovich – Lefebvre

Defence:

St. Denis – Pateryn
Beaulieu – Stejskal
Merth – Ellis

Results:

March 15:
St. John’s
5, Hamilton 0

March 16:

St. John’s
4, Hamilton 3

StatPack:

SKATERS


#

Player

GP

G

A

+/-

SH

PIMS
2 Greg Pateryn 2 0 0 -2 5 0
6 Joe Stejskal 2 0 0 E 0 2
7 Peter Merth 2 0 0 -1 0 4
8 Nathan Beaulieu 2 0 2 E 1 2
10 Stefan Chaput 2 0 0 -3 1 2
11 Joey Tenute 2 0 0 -3 0 0
12 Zack Stortini 2 0 0 -1 1 7
13 Steve Quailer 2 0 0 -2 5 0
15 Kyle Hagel 2 0 0 +1 1 9
16 Olivier Fortier 1 0 0 E 0 0
18 Michael Bournival 2 0 1 -2 5 0
19 Daultan Leveille 1 0 0 E 0 0
20 Louis Leblanc 2 0 0 -1 6 0
26 Petteri Nokelainen 2 0 0 -2 1 2
27 Tyler Murovich 2 1 1 E 3 0
32 Frederic St. Denis 2 0 0 -3 6 0
37 Patrick Holland 2 1 0 -1 3 0
44 Morgan Ellis 2 0 0 -1 1 0
49 Phillipe Lefebvre 1 1 0 +2 3 2
67 Alexander Avtsin 1 0 0 -1 0 0

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
29 Robert Mayer 0-1-0 .500 21.51
34 Dustin Tokarski 0-1-0 .903 3.24

Scoring
Leaders:

Goals: Gabriel Dumont (15)
(Active Leader: Louis Leblanc with 9)

Assists: Bournival/Beaulieu (16)
Points: Gabriel Dumont (30) (Active Leader: Michael Bournival with 23)
+/-: Joonas Nattinen (+6)
PIMS: Zack Stortini (203)
Shots: Nathan Beaulieu (126)

Schedule:

March 22:
Hamilton vs Syracuse
March 23: Hamilton vs Binghamton

Final
Thought

Last season, one of the few days fans were
looking forward to was the trade deadline.  With so few guaranteed sellers,
the Habs surely would fetch a nice premium on their players…or so we thought. 
Instead, we saw the Habs get a 2nd round pick for Andrei Kostitsyn (Brad
Staubitz was claimed via waivers using the vacated roster spot from that trade
if you’d like to include him in there).  Teams weren’t willing to pay
unrealistic prices despite there being so few options out there.

Here we are, one year later, and the only real
difference is that the Habs will be buying and not selling.  There still
aren’t many sellers and the asking prices are reportedly sky high.  As a
result I find myself wondering whether I want to see Montreal really go out
there and try to get that final piece or two.  I can’t say definitively
what it would cost, but I can state that there’s a really good chance we as fans
aren’t going to like the price.

This is normally the time of year where we
start to scoreboard watch, particularly those around the 7th to 12th seeds,
those who the Canadiens typically are battling with for a playoff spot. 
This season those are still the spots to keep an eye on.  Why?  The
greater the separation between the teams in the postseason and those out of it,
the more likely teams are to sell.  The more sellers there are, the greater
chance that a bigger trade becomes more palatable for Marc Bergevin.  If
not, I suspect in a couple of weeks the theme on deadline day will be depth
players at most for Montreal.

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