A week that was seen as a chance to increase
their hold on top spot in the Atlantic Division has come and gone with nothing
to show for it but a shootout loss in two games against cellar-dweller Buffalo.
In Hamilton, the Bulldogs also played a last place team and split a
home-and-home set. Bryan Allen has quickly come under fire from the fans;
my Final Thought discusses why they shouldn’t be too worried about him
continuing to play if he struggles.
1) Playing Jiri Sekac on the penalty kill, a
decision that appears to have been made recently as more than half of Sekac’ SH
time came these last two games. When he was in the KHL he was viewed as a
two-way player so it’s nice to see him earn some more ice time in that area.
In general, it’s also nice to see him getting more ice time altogether; he has
exceeded his season ATOI in six straight games.
2) Exceptional faceoff play. Lost in the
two losses to the Sabres is that the Habs were simply dominant at the dot.
Given Buffalo’s inexperience, it was expected that they’d be above average in
their percentage for these games but going 70% is terrific. This is one
area that no one should be upset about despite this slump.
3) Eric Tangradi, who didn’t look out of place
on the fourth line. He’s a better fit for the role that’s open than
Drayson Bowman (more of a two-way player) was.
1) Brandon Prust. To get thrown out of a
1-0 game for arguing with a referee is unacceptable. It’s not the first
time this has happened either. People are mad at Alexei Emelin for taking
the late penalty that cost them on Friday but this one was much, much worse.
It was selfish, unnecessary, and had nothing to do with the play. At least
Emelin was trying to do something productive, throw a hit. What Prust did
was throw a fit. It’s time he learns to shut his mouth if he disagrees
with the officials, that’s much better than getting tossed.
2) The road scoring woes that haven’t shown
signs of slowing down. In 12 road GP this year, the Habs have 20 goals,
good for an average of 1.67 per game. Montreal is about to embark on a
tough Western road trip. If they keep scoring at that clip, this slump is
destined to become a whole lot worse.
3) Losing back-to-back vs Buffalo. With
all due respect to the Sabres who have improved since the start of the year and
Jhonas Enroth who was fantastic, losses on consecutive nights to them is not
good at all, even if Montreal was the better team. Early on this season,
we’ve seen players step it up come crunch time to help get the win. That
element was sorely lacking on Friday and Saturday.
Shootout – Skaters
Shootout – Goalies
Goals: Max Pacioretty (11)
Assists: Desharnais/Galchenyuk (10)
Points: Max Pacioretty (19)
+/-: Max Pacioretty (+10)
PIMS: Brandon Prust (62)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (90)
Like the Habs, the Bulldogs found themselves
playing against a division bottom-feeder in a home-and-home. Unlike
Montreal, however, Hamilton was able to pull off an OT win in the home half of
the back-to-back set.
– Christian Thomas returned to the lineup,
leaving Stefan Fournier and Dalton Thrower as the only injured players.
Joey MacDonald also made a start after dressing as backup while recovering from
an unspecified issue.
– Despite being a healthy scratch five times
already this season, Mac Bennett sits tied for second in scoring amongst
– Drayson Bowman has just one goal in his last
12 games (and that’s not including his brief time with Montreal).
– Lines from the most recent game:
Hensick – Andrighetto – Hudon
Carr – Dumont – Thomas
Bowman – de la Rose – Sorkin
Nevins – Dowell
Beaulieu – Pateryn
Drewiske – Nygren
Tinordi – Dietz
|20||Jacob de la Rose||2||1||0||+1||7||0|
Goals: Andrighetto/Hudon (7)
Assists: Charles Hudon (14)
Points: Charles Hudon (21)
+/-: Charles Hudon (+9)
PIMS: Joe Finley (61)
Shots: Gabriel Dumont (63)
Hamilton vs Adirondack
December 5: Toronto vs Hamilton
December 6: Hamilton vs Toronto
December 7: Texas vs Hamilton
The early verdict is in on Bryan Allen and the
results are showing that he’s about as popular as Douglas Murray was last year.
That’s somewhat reasonable too given that they’re largely similar players who
are/were on the downswing of their careers. Unlike Murray though, I don’t
expect the Habs to keep running Allen out there if he continues to struggle.
There are two potential thoughts as to why
Montreal acquired the 34 year old. One is that they legitimately missed
Murray and were looking to find another player like that. The other is
that he had to be taken to get rid of Rene Bourque’s deal for next year.
While both are possibilities, to me, it seems likely that he was more of a
defenceman they had to take than one they wanted to acquire. If that’s the
case, they’re not going to feel obligated to keep throwing him in the lineup
once he has had a legitimate chance.
How many games does it take to get that
legitimate chance? There’s no set number but I suspect it’s more than
four, the number of games he has played so far. By the end of this
upcoming four game road trip, that may change. By then, Allen will have
played in at least a couple more games and quite possibly with yet another
playing partner. If he does well, he’ll keep playing. If not, I’d
expect that Tom Gilbert will be back in the regular rotation before long and
Allen will have what Murray’s role was supposed to be all along last year, a
plug-and-play #6 against physical teams and when injuries arise.