The annual Canadian Western road trip hasn’t
been kind to the Habs over the years and this season was no exception as they
sputtered to a 1-1-1 record. In Hamilton, the road is where the Bulldogs
have had some success as they split a pair of games away from home. Max
Pacioretty and David Desharnais have played well together over the years; my
Final Thought argues why it’s that very reason that Montreal should try
splitting them up.
1) Andrei Markov. While much has been
made about how P.K. Subban isn’t dominating or that Tom Gilbert is…well, Tom
Gilbert, the fact that Markov is once again logging huge minutes defensively and
playing well this season hasn’t got a lot of attention. He has been the
one that has held this defence corps together and he should be getting more
credit for that.
2) The penalty kill, which before allowing the
overtime PP winner against Vancouver had successfully killed off 25 straight
opposition man advantages. With the offence struggling, not getting burned
on some not-so-good penalties (particularly late against Calgary) is crucial to
stay in these close games.
3) Carey Price, pretty much the only reason
that the Habs could call their Western trip even somewhat successful.
Against Calgary, he kept them in it despite getting out chanced badly while in
Vancouver, he played well enough to help them earn at least a point.
Without their top goalie, this could have been a really ugly stretch of games.
1) Brandon Prust’s promotion to the third line
for most of the week. I get that they wanted to mix up the lines to try to
spark the offence but giving Prust more ice time does the opposite of
that. This is a player who since joining Montreal, has scored about once
every ten games. A hot streak for him is scoring twice in a month so why
did the coaches think giving him a bigger role would help them score more?
That one’s a head scratcher.
2) The road powerplay woes; Montreal is now
0/24 with the man advantage away from the Bell Centre. There is too much
talent for there to be this long of a slump and lately, they’ve had quite a few
chances where they couldn’t even muster a single shot on goal. Whatever
adjustments get made, the first needs to be finding a way to get more pucks on
the net. It doesn’t matter how pretty a goal looks as long as it goes in
3) The training camp battle that is entering
its third month with no end in sight. The competition between Nathan
Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi for the #6 job has demonstrated that neither player
seems to be ready and capable of playing on a regular basis. By no means
is it time to give up on them – defencemen often take longer to develop – but
sooner or later one of them has to take the reins and run with it. If not,
someone else needs to get a chance.
Shootout – Skaters
Shootout – Goalies
Goals: Tomas Plekanec (5)
Assists: Alexei Emelin (6)
Points: Tomas Plekanec (9)
+/-: Desharnais/Pacioretty (+8)
PIMS: P.K. Subban (18)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (36)
The Bulldogs have been a much better road team
than a home one in the early going this season. They went 1-1 away from
Hamilton this past week but even in the loss they played a better game than some
of their recent outings on home ice.
– The injury bug struck as both Magnus Nygren
and Eric Tangradi are out with lower body injuries. They join Stefan
Fournier and Dalton Thrower on the shelf.
– If you think Montreal’s powerplay is bad, it
could be worse…it could be as bad as the Bulldogs who are stumbling along at
just 6.1% overall. (On the flip side, they at least have one road
– T.J. Hensick’s offensive slump has carried
over from last season. He scored just his first goal of the season a few
days ago; if you go back to last year, he has just three tallies in his last 25
– Lines from the most recent game:
Hudon – Andrighetto – Thomas
Carr – Hensick – Dumont
Bowman – de la Rose – Sorkin
Nevins – Dowell – Crisp
Bennett – Pateryn
Drewiske – Dietz
Finley – Ellis
|20||Jacob de la Rose||2||0||0||+1||3||0|
Goals: Sven Andrighetto (4)
Assists: Charles Hudon (5)
Points: Charles Hudon (7)
+/-: Charles Hudon (+6)
PIMS: Joe Finley (40)
Shots: Sven Andrighetto (30)
November 2: Hamilton vs Charlotte
November 4: Rochester vs Hamilton
November 7: Adirondack vs Hamilton
November 8: Adirondack vs Hamilton
With the lines getting juggled around as a
result of Montreal’s offensive lull, there remains one constant through it all,
the duo of Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais. There’s no denying that
the two of them enjoy playing on the same line and they’ve had success.
The coaches seem to be using that as a reason to keep them together but I look
at that as a reason to separate them.
It’s time to try them with new linemates.
If it works, great; if not, reunite them and you don’t have to worry about
whether or not they’ve lost their chemistry since they’ve been together for so
long. Pacioretty and Desharnais shouldn’t be inseparable and they
shouldn’t take the easy way out and move everyone else around while keeping them
on the same line. Something that every coach talks about is avoiding being
complacent but it needs to go both ways – not just the players but the coaches
too. The fact that there’s little risk of them losing the chemistry they
have makes it the right time to give this a try.