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The Habs picked up three important victories
this past week to maintain their lead atop the Northeast Division.  In
Hamilton, the Bulldogs were officially eliminated from playoff contention but
still managed to win a pair of games on a tough four game road trip.  The
choice to not make any big trades at the deadline has some wondering whether or
not Marc Bergevin made the right decision, my Final Thought looks at why I
believe it was the right one.

Cheers
and Jeers

Cheers to…

1) The powerplay, which was still productive
despite not having too many opportunities.  On the week, the Habs were 4/9
(44.4%) with the man advantage, including a perfect 3/3 in the past two games.

2) Alex Galchenyuk, who is finally starting to
have some bounces go his way.  His goal against Winnipeg snapped an 18 game
goalless drought which I’d have to speculate was a career high at any level. 
He still is trying to be a little too precise with his shots but if he can start
hitting the net with more regularity down the stretch, he will be someone to
watch for sure.

3) Ryan White, for getting back to the style of
play that can actually help the team.  He was aggressive, physical, and
most importantly, in control.  It has been quite a while since he has had
that type of a positive impact on a game, it was nice to see.

Jeers to…

1) The idea that the defencemen need to launch
themselves at opponents, the way that Niklas Kronwall does with Detroit. 
P.K. Subban is beginning to attempt this with more regularity but rarely does he
connect.  Alexei Emelin tried it (he at least hasn’t done so as often this
year, instead playing a safer game with Markov) on Saturday and now he’s hurt. 
Keep it simple, there are other ways to throw an effective body check. 
Leave the launching to those who are actually good at it.

2) Lars Eller, who has really slowed down in
recent weeks.  He has points in just four of his last fourteen games (two
of his last nine) and has recorded a faceoff percentage over 50% just once in
his last eleven contests.  With Rene Bourque reportedly close to returning,
Eller may wind up being the one in jeopardy of being demoted if this continues.

3) The recent return to playing to protect the
lead in late situations.  Instead of pushing for that insurance goals,
Montreal has been content to sit back and try to hold onto the lead.  Last
year showed that playing that way rarely works and they got burned on it in
Philadelphia.  Here’s hoping they learn their lesson.

StatPack:

SKATERS


#

Player

GP
G A +/- PIM SH TOI
8 Brandon Prust 4 1 1 E 9 6 55:38
11 Brendan Gallagher 4 0 1 +1 0 8 59:26
14 Tomas Plekanec 3 0 2 +1 0 4 49:43
20 Colby Armstrong 1 0 0 E 0 1 7:59
21 Brian Gionta 4 1 2 -1 0 8 68:32
24 Jeff Halpern 4 1 1 +1 2 4 58:24
26 Josh Gorges 4 0 0 +2 0 2 93:19
27 Alex Galchenyuk 4 2 1 E 4 6 43:05
32 Travis Moen 4 0 1 +1 5 4 53:12
40 Nathan Beaulieu 1 0 1 +2 0 0 15:17
44 Davis Drewiske 3 0 0 -3 0 0 56:47
45 Michael Blunden 2 0 0 -1 2 3 20:27
51 David Desharnais 4 1 1 +2 4 10 64:25
53 Ryan White 2 0 0 E 0 1 23:53
55 Francis Bouillon 4 0 2 E 4 2 71:43
67 Max Pacioretty 4 2 2 +3 0 13 65:21
73 Michael Ryder 4 3 1 -2 0 8 61:04
74 Alexei Emelin 4 1 1 +2 7 5 58:52
76 P.K. Subban 4 0 5 +3 4 6 97:53
79 Andrei Markov 4 1 0 -2 0 2 86:52
81 Lars Eller 4 0 2 -4 4 6 61:53

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
30 Peter Budaj 1-0-0 .971 1.00
31 Carey Price 2-1-0 .924 2.01

Scoring
Leaders:

Goals: Michael Ryder (16)
Assists: P.K. Subban (22)
Points: Ryder/Subban (32)
+/-: Prust/Subban (+13)
PIMS: Brandon Prust (90)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (129)

Schedule:

April 9: Washington vs Montreal
April 11: Montreal vs Buffalo
April 13: Montreal vs Toronto

The Dog
Pound

Although the Bulldogs have officially been
eliminated from playoff contention, they had a pretty successful road trip which
was highlighted by a third period comeback victory over league-leading Texas.

News and
Notes:

– More players have been added on tryout deals. 
Olivier Archambault and Charles Hudon both signed ATO’s after their respective
QMJHL seasons ended while defenceman Adam Ross was signed to a PTO.  He
spent the season playing for the Habs’ ECHL affiliate in Wheeling.

– Danny Kristo also joined the team after being
signed to an entry level contract by the Habs.  As the contract covers this
season, he is eligible (unlike the others) to be recalled at any time.

– Of the 28 points that Patrick Holland has
this season (65 GP), half have come in the past 16 games (five goals and nine
assists). 

– Approximate lines from the most recent game:

Forwards:

Hudon – Tenute – Holland
Bournival – Nokelainen – Leblanc
Archambault – Belzile – Kristo
Hagel – Stortini – Quailer

Defence:

Tinordi – Pateryn
St. Denis – DeSantis
Stejskal – Ellis

Results:

April 2:
Oklahoma City
4, Hamilton 1

April 5:
Hamilton
4, San Antonio 2

April 6:
Hamilton
2, Texas 1

April 7:
Houston
2, Hamilton 0

StatPack:

SKATERS


#

Player

GP

G

A

+/-

SH

PIMS
2 Greg Pateryn 4 0 0 -2 2 0
5 Jarred Tinordi 4 0 1 E 2 11
6 Joe Stejskal 2 0 0 E 1 0
8 Nathan Beaulieu 2 1 2 +1 8 0
11 Joey Tenute 4 0 3 -2 6 6
12 Zack Stortini 4 0 1 +1 1 5
13 Steve Quailer 4 0 0 E 3 0
15 Kyle Hagel 4 1 0 +1 4 5
18 Michael Bournival 4 0 1 -1 13 0
20 Louis Leblanc 4 0 1 -2 12 2
24 Danny Kristo 3 0 1 E 2 0
26 Petteri Nokelainen 4 1 1 +1 9 2
32 Frederic St. Denis 4 0 0 E 3 2
37 Patrick Holland 4 2 1 E 9 2
40 Gabriel Dumont 1 0 0 -2 1 0
44 Morgan Ellis 4 0 0 +1 2 0
47 Alex Belzile 4 1 0 -1 3 2
53 Charles Hudon 3 1 0 +1 10 0
54 Brady Vail 1 0 0 +1 1 0
56 Olivier Archambault 4 0 0 E 5 6
58 Jason DeSantis 4 0 0 E 4 0

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
29 Robert Mayer 1-2-0 .935 2.02
34 Dustin Tokarski 1-0-0 .967 1.00

Scoring
Leaders:

Goals: Gabriel Dumont (16)
(Active Leader: Patrick Holland with 10)
Assists: Nathan Beaulieu (21) (Active Leaders: Bournival/Holland with
18)

Points: Gabriel Dumont (31) (Active Leader: Patrick Holland with 28)
+/-: Joonas Nattinen (+6)
PIMS: Zack Stortini (220)
Shots: Louis Leblanc (148)

Schedule:

April 12:
Lake Erie vs Hamilton
April 13: Hamilton vs Lake Erie
April 14: Oklahoma City vs Hamilton

Final
Thought

After the trade deadline came and
went with the lone acquisition being Davis Drewiske, many fans are wondering if
the Habs were wise to stand pat.  Given the price that the top rental
players were costing, I think Marc Bergevin did the right thing by essentially
staying pat.  Drewiske looks like he will be a useful and safer 6th/7th
defenceman and given the recent injuries on the blueline, he will get plenty of
opportunities to play.  With Rene Bourque reportedly close to returning, he
will be the ‘deadline acquisition’ up front since he has missed more than half
of the season now. 

The fact of the matter is, this
team doesn’t have a whole lot of holes at the moment.  The goaltending is
fine, the defence is good (depth is a bit iffy but Drewiske will help), while
the offensive attack is well balanced; Bourque’s return should only help that.  Faceoffs have been a concern this year but Jeff Halpern will help in that area,
so too will Ryan White when he’s in the lineup.  You can always make a
strength even stronger but I don’t think it was necessary here.  This team
has been good enough to sit at or near the top of the conference pretty much all
season long.  It’s not unrealistic to expect that they should be capable of
continuing to play at that level down the stretch and into the postseason. 

Are the Habs the contender
for the Stanley Cup?  I wouldn’t say so.  Do they have a team that
should be able to make a run in the postseason?  I believe so and as a
result, it’s hard for me to question the decision to stand pat.  Let’s find out
how this core handles itself in the playoffs, then in the offseason make the
move or two that will take them to the next level.  That sounds like a good
plan to me.  It certainly worked out for the best when Bergevin was in
Chicago.

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