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This past week had something for everyone as
the Habs were involved in four distinctly different games, collecting six of a
possible eight points along the way.  In Hamilton, the Bulldogs were able
to keep their slim playoff hopes alive with a pair of important wins. 
Montreal finishes up their season-long five game road trip this week, my Final
Thought looks at why this series of games could be particularly important for
the team.

Cheers
and Jeers

Cheers to…

1) The whole team who may very well have
exorcised a pair of demons this past week.  They needed to get the better
of Toronto after being humiliated in their last game.  They did.  They
needed to snap a somewhat lengthy losing streak against Boston and send a
message that Montreal has earned the right to be in the race for first in the
East.  They did.  Points in 11 straight games is impressive…even if
Chicago’s streak is considerably longer.

2) The newly formed line of Pacioretty-Desharnais-Gallagher, which in recent games have been producing at a
level greater than the top line that carried the team for the majority of last
season.  This past week, they combined for eight goals and nine assists in
four games. 

3) Tomas Kaberle, for making the most of his
re-insertion into the lineup replacing Raphael Diaz.  After missing the
better part of a month, he played a safe and largely reliable game, an
improvement on his early season performance.  In fact, he blocked more
shots (six) this past week than the rest of his season combined (four).

Jeers to…

1) Josh Gorges, who really seems to have lost
his way.  Yes, he still blocks plenty of shots but he is a lot less
aggressive on the ice this season.  He also has been caught defensively too
often in recent games – for example, not being in the right spot in transition
or covering the same player as someone else.  Fortunately, these issues are
all correctable.

2) It’s tough to say this given the Habs’
success this year, but Michel Therrien, for relying on newly-acquired Michael
Ryder much too quickly.  Prior to Sunday’s game against Boston, Ryder had
all of one practice with the team.  With that in mind, logic would dictate
that he shouldn’t have led all Montreal forwards in ice time which is what
happened.  I’m not advocating benching him but less ice time for him, for
now, would be best.  Let him develop some chemistry which should get him
going.

3) Carey Price (another tough one given his
season successes), as he looked very shaky in all three outings despite allowing
two or fewer goals in two of those games.  Focus and positioning are two
staples of his game and neither have been as prevalent lately.  Hopefully
it was just an issue of fatigue and that with a break, he’ll be back to normal.

StatPack:

SKATERS


#

Player

GP
G A +/- PIM SH TOI
8 Brandon Prust 4 1 0 +2 5 6 62:28
11 Brendan Gallagher 4 1 4 +5 2 15 50:27
14 Tomas Plekanec 4 1 0 +1 2 17 68:46
20 Colby Armstrong 4 0 1 -1 2 4 44:00
21 Brian Gionta 4 3 0 +1 0 10 69:11
22 Tomas Kaberle 3 0 2 +4 0 4 41:17
26 Josh Gorges 4 0 1 -4 0 4 80:56
27 Alex Galchenyuk 4 0 0 -3 2 3 50:47
32 Travis Moen 4 0 1 -1 0 1 50:52
51 David Desharnais 4 3 2 +4 0 12 68:44
53 Ryan White 4 0 0 -2 0 2 40:50
55 Francis Bouillon 4 0 1 E 0 4 66:47
61 Raphael Diaz 1 0 1 -1 0 1 23:34
67 Max Pacioretty 4 4 3 +4 0 22 68:07
72 Erik Cole 1 0 0 -1 0 4 16:31
73 Michael Ryder 3 0 1 -1 0 3 52:37
74 Alexei Emelin 4 1 3 +1 7 8 87:02
76 P.K. Subban 4 1 2 E 2 13 89:02
79 Andrei Markov 4 1 2 +2 0 12 102:23
81 Lars Eller 4 0 2 -1 4 5 65:30

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
30 Peter Budaj 1-0-0 .912 3.01
31 Carey Price 1-0-2 .880 3.23

SHOOTOUT
– SKATERS

# Player G/ATT
14 Tomas Plekanec 0/1
21 Brian Gionta 0/1
27 Alex Galchenyuk 0/1
51 David Desharnais 1/1
73 Brendan Gallagher 0/1

SHOOTOUT
– GOALIES

# Player SVS/ATT
31 Carey Price 3/5

Scoring
Leaders:

Goals: Tomas Plekanec (9)
Assists: Diaz/Pacioretty (12)
Points: Max Pacioretty (20)
+/-: Brendan Gallagher (+12) (League leader among rookies)
PIMS: Brandon Prust (81) (League leader)
Shots: Tomas Plekanec (72)

Schedule:

March 5:
Montreal vs NY Islanders
March 7: Montreal vs Carolina
March 2: Montreal vs Tampa Bay
March 3: Montreal vs Florida

The Dog
Pound

For those who still hold out hope that the
Bulldogs can complete the improbable comeback to get into a playoff spot, they
were able to cut the deficit down to 11 points with 21 games remaining in their
season.

News and
Notes:

– Frederic St. Denis and Olivier Fortier both
returned to action, giving the team a little bit more healthy depth. 
However, Jason DeSantis (upper body) and Nathan Beaulieu (arm) both went down,
eliminating that extra depth.  Both blueliners are day-to-day.

– Michael Bournival is starting to pick up his
offensive play.  He has points in five of his last ten games; before that,
he had points in just two of 18 contests.

– Gabriel Dumont was recalled to Montreal after
the loss to Binghamton.

– Approximate lines from the most recent game:

Forwards:

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

Defence:

Tinordi – Pateryn
St. Denis – Ellis
Corbin – Stejskal

Results:

February 26:
Hamilton
4, St. John’s 3

March 1:
Binghamton
3, Hamilton 2

March 2:
Hamilton
2, Lake Erie 0

StatPack:

SKATERS


#

Player

GP

G

A

+/-

SH

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

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
29 Robert Mayer 1-1-0 .917 3.06
34 Dustin Tokarski 1-0-0 1.000 0.00

Scoring
Leaders:

Goals: Gabriel Dumont (15)
(Active Leader: Michael Blunden with 9)

Assists: Gabriel Dumont (15) (Active Leader: Michael Bournival with
13)

Points: Gabriel Dumont (30) (Active Leader: Michael Blunden with 21)
+/-: Joonas Nattinen (+6)
PIMS: Zack Stortini (185)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (117) (Active Leader: Nathan Beaulieu with
116)

Schedule:

March 5:
Abbotsford vs Hamilton
March 8: Hamilton vs Grand Rapids
March 9: Peoria vs Hamilton
March 10: Grand Rapids vs Hamilton

Final
Thought

After a week that had a little bit of
everything against some high quality opponents, you may find it hard to believe
but I think this upcoming week is going to be potentially just as important. 
Here’s why:

Establish road success: Even with
three games this past week on the road, the Habs have still played the second
fewest (tied) road games in the NHL.  As such, a strong week (or a really
bad one) will really define the type of team this is away from the Bell Centre.

Avoid the let down: With all due
respect to the four opponents, they’re a step down from last weeks’ competition. 
In fact, the best team points-wise (Carolina, 25) has fewer points than the
worst team Montreal faced last week (Toronto, 26).  In the past, the Habs
have a reputation of playing down to their opponent.  This is a perfect
opportunity to prove otherwise.

Test the rookies: All season, we’ve
seen the Canadiens shelter the minutes of Galchenyuk and Gallagher but even more
so on the road.  Four road games in six nights means the team is going to
be rolling a fairly balanced attack and as a result, the youngsters are going to
be thrust into lesser ideal matchups.  This is a good chance to see if
perhaps the reigns can indeed be loosened.

Plus, a strong week in the win-loss column can
firmly entrench the Habs in a playoff spot (barring a huge collapse) and
solidify them as buyers leading into the trade deadline.  A so-so showing
means the seeds of doubt will start to creep back into the discussion, justified
or not.  This isn’t going to be the week that defines the season but as was
the case last week, it can have a significant impact moving forward.

With the Habs playing this upcoming Sunday, the
next HW Recap will be Monday, March 11th.  If you have any questions/comments, please feel
free to drop me a line at [email protected]