The Habs rediscovered their form and had a 4-0
week to ascend to the top of the standings and extend their win streak to six.
While things weren’t quite as perfect in Hamilton, the Bulldogs were also able
to pick up a couple of important victories to move out of the division basement.
Dressing seven defencemen hasn’t been a popular decision but my Final Thought
looks at why it will help Nathan Beaulieu, even if it costs him ice time now.
1) Ending the first period drought, which
finally happened against Philadelphia. It took well over a month but the
Habs finally have held a lead after 20 minutes and the fact that this streak is
mercifully over is worth a cheer. (So too is the fact that they didn’t
blow the lead…)
2) Sergei Gonchar, who has fit in surprisingly
well in the early going. Yes, he looked a bit slow in the second half of
the back-to-back but for the most part, he looked like a defenceman who might be
able to log more than the 13-14 minutes a night he was getting in Dallas.
Yes, it’s early, but so far, so good.
3) Lars Eller, who has finally come close to
resembling the player he was in the postseason. The key now for him will
be to maintain this pace instead of going cold again in a week or two as he has
a lot of times when he gets on a bit of a roll.
1) Cutting Tom Gilbert’s ice time to the extent
we saw this week. I know he’s not the most popular of defenders and that
he was being overused a bit early but cutting him to 14 or so minutes a night
isn’t particularly ideal. He can handle more than a #6 role on this team.
2) Taking too many penalties. The Habs
rank last in the East in time spent shorthanded (128:37) and dead last in the
league in PP-PK time (-39:41) by a whopping margin (nearly 15 minutes) over the
29th place team. It’s nice that the penalty kill is bailing them out for
the most part right now but sooner than later it’s going to come back to bite
them. It’s time to get that rectified.
3) The extremes many are going to when it comes
to evaluating the team. Two weeks ago, many wanted Michel Therrien’s head
on a platter and 1/3 of the team traded for anything. Now, everything’s
good again and talk of another long playoff run has come up. Montreal is
in the midst of likely one of their best streaks of the season after what will
likely be one of the worst. Projecting or hoping for anything based off of
an extreme streak, good or bad, is going to lead to an awful lot of
flip-flopping as we’re seeing now.
Goals: Max Pacioretty (8)
Assists: 5 players tied with (8)
Points: Max Pacioretty (16)
+/-: Max Pacioretty (+12)
PIMS: Brandon Prust (30)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (67)
Blown leads were the theme of the week for the
Bulldogs but they managed to overcome them to pick up a pair of
– Christian Thomas (upper body) and Jack
Nevins (lower body) missed this week with injuries although neither are believed
to be significant ailments. They join Stefan Fournier and Dalton Thrower
on the shelf; Eric Tangradi returned to the lineup.
– Sahir Gill received a PTO from the Bulldogs.
He played in one game (in place of Sven Andrighetto who was shockingly a healthy scratch)
and was subsequently released.
– Not only is Charles Hudon near the top of the
league in rookie scoring, he’s also tied for the fourth best +/- in the AHL.
– Just 13 players in the AHL have 50 or more
PIMS. The Bulldogs have two of them.
– Lines from the most recent game:
Bourque – Hensick – Hudon
Tangradi – Andrighetto – Dumont
Carr – de la Rose – Dowell
Crisp – Macenauer
Tinordi – Pateryn
Drewiske – Nygren
Finley – Dietz
St. John’s 3, Hamilton 2
Hamilton 2, St. John’s 1 (OT)
Hamilton 5, Rochester 4 (OT)
|20||Jacob de la Rose||3||1||0||E||3||2|
Goals: Andrighetto/Dumont (6)
Assists: Charles Hudon (10)
Points: Charles Hudon (14)
+/-: Charles Hudon (+11)
PIMS: Crisp/Finley (50)
Shots: Sven Andrighetto (48)
November 19: Hamilton vs Utica
November 21: Toronto vs Hamilton
November 23: Hamilton vs Toronto
The 7/11 system the Habs have used since the
acquisition of Sergei Gonchar hasn’t been a popular one amongst some fans and
media alike. The main gripe is with regards to Nathan Beaulieu and that it
takes him out of the regular rotation on the blueline and instead gets him
sparing minutes with even the odd shift up front.
Personally, I consider this to be a good thing.
As much as some simply want the team to hand him minutes and a top-4 role,
Beaulieu’s play has demonstrated that he isn’t ready to handle such a role.
However, going with 7 D is at least allowing him to still play against NHL
competition which is still beneficial to his development.
The Habs have been extremely lucky so far when
it comes to injuries in that they’ve hardly had any. As soon as one
blueliner goes down (and it will happen at some point), Beaulieu will go back to
a regular role on the back end. With him at least still playing every
night (albeit with limited minutes), he should be more prepared since he’s in
the lineup regularly. It may be unconventional but right now for Beaulieu,
this 7/11 setup may very well be the best option for him.