The final week of the regular season didn’t
start off well but in the end, the Habs played better with each game, ending
their season with an impressive and convincing win over their division rival in
Toronto. A couple of youngsters highlight the cheers of the week while my
Final Thought discusses why regardless of what happens in the playoffs, there is
a lot to be proud about moving forward.
1) The centres, who have won better than 50% of
their faceoffs in four straight games. After being ranked in the 20’s for
the better part of the year, the team moved up to 17th with a team percentage of
49.8%. Three of the four regular centres (Plekanec, Desharnais, and
Halpern) also finished off at 50% or higher.
2) Jarred Tinordi, who wasn’t even with the
team at the beginning of the week but now has to be thought of as a must-dress
player in Game 1 of the playoffs. His size and reach on the penalty kill
in particular are two elements this team sorely needs. Don’t be surprised
if his minutes are limited though given his lack of experience.
3) Lars Eller, whose big week (in particular,
his game against Toronto) gave him a new career high in points despite this
being an abbreviated season. He had two more points this year despite
playing in 33 fewer games. He has really elevated his game the past few
1) Michael Ryder, for picking the worst time of
the year to go into a scoring drought. He has failed to light the lamp in
nine straight games and has picked up an assist in just two of those contests.
The Habs don’t have a lot of ‘pure goal scorers,’ he needs to rediscover that
2) I’ve harped about this before, but the
continued lack of variety on the powerplay. Everyone in the arena knows
the plan is to get it to Subban and hope he blasts one by the goalie. In a
playoff series, special teams are focused on in much greater detail. The
coaches need to come up with some strategies to get the forwards more involved
to keep defenders honest in their coverage.
3) Speaking of the powerplay, the coaching
staff for continually deploying David Desharnais with the man advantage for
extended minutes. He’s third on the team (for forwards) in powerplay ice
time and has just seven points (25% of his season total) to show for it.
We don’t need to take too close of a look to realize that this isn’t efficient
at all. It’s time to start reducing his minutes there.
Goals: Michael Ryder (16)
Assists: P.K. Subban (27)
Points: Max Pacioretty (39)
+/-: Alex Galchenyuk (+14)
PIMS: Brandon Prust (110)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (163)
– Not only did Eller hit a new career high in
points in this shortened year, so too did Alexei Emelin. P.K. Subban’s 38
points tied his career high. Rene Bourque had more points (13) than he did
with Montreal in 2011-12 (8) despite playing in eleven more games under Randy
– Peter Budaj’s 2.29 GAA is a new career best,
beating his previous mark of 2.55 which was set last season. On the flip
side, Carey Price’s .905 SV% ties a career low.
– The Habs finished 6th in the league in 5-on-5
goals/against ratio. Last year, they sat 18th and the year before that
16th. This is a huge factor in their turnaround this season.
– The Canadiens are just one of three
playoff-bound teams to have a penalty kill percentage below 80% (79.8%).
Interestingly enough, the other two come from the East (Pittsburgh and
What an interesting regular season this turned
out to be. Just over three months ago, nobody knew what to expect and
there were a wide variety of predictions. I don’t think any of them though
had the Habs putting up 63 points and securing home ice advantage to start the
postseason. In fact, I’d say there were many who wouldn’t have guessed
there would be a postseason game played at the Bell Centre in 2013.
But here we are, on the edge of the playoffs,
in a season where a lot went right for Montreal. That alone was a nice
turnaround from last year where just about nothing went right, one where the
highlight of the season was the final buzzer in game #82.
Despite the recent struggles and negativity, we
as fans have an awful lot to be happy about. The young core of the team
looks as promising as ever and the future looks quite bright for the team.
This is something to keep in mind regardless of how the cards fall in the
opening round. Yes, losing would of course be a disappointment but the
overall success of this year would offset that to a degree. No matter what
happens, there’s a lot to be proud of as a fan about moving forward.
If you have any questions/comments, please feel
free to drop me a line at [email protected]