The Habs split a pair of games this past week
and are still alive and kicking in their 3rd round series against New York
despite missing Carey Price. His replacement highlights the cheers for the
week while the recently suspended Brandon Prust sits atop the list of jeers.
We’ve seen a lot of gamesmanship from Montreal in recent days, my Final Thought
looks at why this may not be a good thing.
1) Dustin Tokarski. He has been put in a
really tough situation as the one stepping in for Carey Price and so far, he has
done better than expected. Don’t expect to see him play like he did in
Game 3 regularly (his Game 2 effort is more realistic) but he has the team
believing in him now. That will be important as they try to overcome this
2) The line creativity from Michel Therrien.
The lineup that started Game 3 (with Vanek on the fourth line) saw each trio
have at least two quality offensive players. That’s something that I don’t
think we’ve really seen this year and it was an interesting idea to try coming
off of a one goal game. Keeping the opposition guessing is important at
this time of year and the Vanek demotion accomplished just that.
3) Andrei Markov, who finally is on the board
in the goal column. Markov has been a bit hot and cold this year in the
offensive category and if this gets him going, he can bring an element to the
team that they haven’t had for a while, a second threat from the point.
His Game 3 goal also snapped a lengthy postseason drought spanning over six
years (April 26 vs Philadelphia). He was really due for one…
1) Brandon Prust. For the second straight
week, he did something worthy of ejection (and escaped it for the second
straight time). He needs to play with an edge to help the team.
Right now, Prust is playing over that edge and isn’t helping; for those who
think he set the tone for Game 3, it’s worth noting that New York absolutely
dominated the first period before and after the hit/fight. His
suspension may actually help the team as either Michael Bournival or Travis Moen
are better fits moving forward.
2) The penalty kill which hasn’t looked right
for a while. It has just over a 72% success rate in the past five games
and even the ones that don’t yield a goal haven’t been too successful as it
allows quite a few quality chances. This is one of the negatives to
rolling four offensive lines, the amount of quality penalty kill options drops.
Whoever’s out there for the next few games will need to be better.
3) P.K. Subban, who is going into ‘hero mode’
far too often. It’s one thing to once in a while try to take on the rest
of the opposition by yourself. It’s another to do so multiple times in a
period, something we’ve seen this series. Attempting 18 shots in a game
may seem impressive but it also shows that he’s too frequently ignoring passing
opportunities to look for his own shot. I know people don’t like to hear
this but less is more when it comes to Subban. He’s better off starting
the offence, not being the offence.
Assists: P.K. Subban (8)
Points: P.K. Subban (12)
+/-: Mike Weaver (+8)
PIMS: Brandon Prust (30)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (50)
– Michael McCarron returned to action as his
London Knights were hosting the Memorial Cup. He did not play particularly
well although none of the Knights really did as they failed to win a single game
and were the first to be eliminated.
– Robert Mayer was added to Switzerland’s
roster for their final game at the Worlds and he dressed as the backup.
The next day, the Habs placed him on waivers and released him after he went
unclaimed. I expect they’ll bring in another young goalie as the fifth
stringer to replace him for next year.
– Martin Reway’s Slovakian squad were
eliminated after the Preliminary Round at the World Championships. His ice
time went up by a lot in the final few games. Reway finished with three
assists and an even rating in seven games.
– Magnus Nygren has seen his ice time steadily
drop with Team Sweden but it hasn’t prevented him from picking up the points.
He has a goal and four assists in nine games so far and will be competing for a
Given how successful the Habs have been so far
in this playoff run, it’s hard to be too frustrated with what’s going on.
However, I must say that I’m not overly thrilled with all of this bantering in
the media we’ve seen in recent days.
Last year, one of the perceived downfalls of
the Canadiens was that they lost their composure. We all remember Brandon
Prust’s comments about Paul MacLean or Michel Therrien getting upset about some
of Ottawa’s behaviour. Early in this postseason, they kept quiet.
Now, the coach and lots of players seem to have an opinion about this and that
and are seemingly trying to fabricate a war of words.
My question is why? Why go away from what
was working before to fall closer to habits that contributed to their demise
just last year? It’s one thing to voice a dissenting opinion about one
thing that happens over the course of a series, it’s another to comment about
the Rangers’ players, coaches, officiating, and allegations of injuries plus
exaggerations about how injured one may be in the span of a few days.
Stick with what worked, keeping quiet. It may not be as popular for the
media but it’s much better for the team.