It was a light week for the Habs who had just
one game but they made the most of it with a win over the Islanders. It
wasn’t as good of a week for the Bulldogs though as failed to score a goal in a
pair of tough losses. Also, with the New Year almost here, my Final
Thought looks at the biggest storylines of 2014 and there were quite a few of
With only one game to write about, I’m cutting down the Cheers and Jeers
to just two each for this week.
1) David Desharnais, who has handled the
transition to the wing surprisingly well. Adding that bit of versatility
will make life a whole lot easier for Michel Therrien while for those who would
like to see him traded, the ability to play two positions can only help his
value around the league.
2) The Habs’ third period successes. As
much as I (and many others) harp on the first period ineptitude, it’s worth
highlighting that Montreal is dominant in the final frame. They sit second
in the league in goals scored and are in the bottom ten for goals allowed.
It may take them a while to get going but they make up for it at the end.
1) Montreal’s lack of offence on the road.
The Canadiens sit 29th in road goals scored with just 32 in 18 games.
That’s an average of 1.78 per game. In a league where coaches preach that
you need three to win most nights, tallying barely half of that isn’t going to
cut it. With a big road trip ahead, they will need to shore this up in a
hurry. Three against the Isles is a good start.
2) The lack of usage of the fourth line.
When the team was doing well early on, the fourth line (which mostly was
Prust-Malhotra-Weise) was getting the better part of ten minutes a night.
Now, the fourth trio seems to be a combination of Malhotra with whoever is in
the doghouse and they all get very limited ice time. Yes, two forwards
have been dealt so the depth isn’t as strong but there’s still enough talent to
reunite that original fourth line and get back to more of a balanced deployment
up front. With some back-to-backs on tap, running just three lines
regularly will take its toll.
Goals: Max Pacioretty (13)
Assists: Desharnais/Galchenyuk/Subban (15)
Points: Max Pacioretty (27)
+/-: Max Pacioretty (+17)
PIMS: Brandon Prust (73)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (118)
If you don’t score, you can’t win.
Someone forgot to remind the Bulldogs of that tidbit this past week as Hamilton
failed to score a single goal in a pair of ugly losses.
– Dalton Thrower was assigned to Brampton of
the ECHL. With their affiliate in Wheeling already carrying three extra
Hamilton blueliners, it was likely that Thrower would have to go elsewhere.
On a side note, given their dearth of available forwards, maybe they should look
at swapping one of these spare depth defencemen for a depth forward.
– Connor Crisp was handed a three game
suspension for leaving the bench on a legal line change to start a fight.
The original call (not a legal line change) was rescinded by the league so this
could have been a whole lot worse.
– Charles Hudon has hit his first slump of the
season. He doesn’t have a point in his last four games and is goalless in
– Lines from the most recent game:
Bowman – Hudon – Hensick
Carr – Dumont – Thomas
Tangradi – Dowell – Sorkin
Nevins – Macenauer – Bakker
Tinordi – Drewiske
Bennett – Pateryn
Finley – Dietz
Goals: Andrighetto/Hudon (9)
Assists: Charles Hudon (22)
Points: Charles Hudon (31)
+/-: Charles Hudon (+7)
PIMS: Connor Crisp (91)
Shots: Gabriel Dumont (89)
30: Hamilton vs Rockford
January 2: Hamilton vs Chicago
January 3: Hamilton vs Milwaukee
With 2014 almost at an end, it’s time for the
annual tradition of looking back at the year that was and some of its biggest
storylines. There were quite a few when it came to the Habs.
– Subban’s new contract: No one wants
their GM to be a pushover in negotiations but the stalemate between GM Marc
Bergevin and the representation for P.K. Subban brought many fans to their
breaking point. After talks went nowhere throughout most of the offseason,
the sides went through an arbitration hearing (a rarity nowadays) which would
have resulted in just a one year deal. Eventually, both sides agreed to a
record-breaking contract that makes Subban the highest paid player in franchise
history on the longest contract signed in the history of the club.
– 3rd round playoff run: With the
Canadiens battling for first in the division for most of the year, it was fair
to say that there were some expectations when it came to the postseason.
That said, I don’t think many expected the Habs to make it to the 3rd round.
The storyline within this storyline of course was the Carey Price injury that
will always leave the thought of ‘what if?’ when pondering that team for years
to come. On the happier side, we also saw the emergence of Dustin Tokarski
as a viable NHL goalie.
– Thomas Vanek trade: It was expected
that the Habs would have a quiet trade deadline last March. The team was
doing relatively well and Bergevin wasn’t known for making a big splash.
But sure enough, after most teams bowed out for being unable to handle Vanek’s
cap hit, Bergevin snuck in and made one of the biggest acquisitions on deadline
day. The move paid quick dividends in the regular season but Vanek
struggled mightily in the postseason. Despite that, I get the sense that
there aren’t too many who are unhappy with the trade.
– Habs sign Jiri Sekac: Over the years,
there have been a lot of free agents that come to the NHL after playing
internationally. The hyped ones wind up in a bidding war, one that the
Canadiens never win. Except this time, they did with Jiri Sekac. One
of the bigger surprises of the annual July 1 free agent frenzy saw the Habs sign
the 22 year old winger to a two year entry-level deal. It hasn’t taken
long for Sekac to earn himself a regular role with the team either. So
far, this signing has certainly paid off.
– Bergevin likes defencemen: It’s safe
to say Bergevin is a believer in the notion that you can never have enough
defencemen. Prior to the trade deadline, he added Mike Weaver when the
team was already carrying a full roster of blueliners plus the likes of
Beaulieu, Tinordi, and Pateryn in the AHL. Fast forward to this year and
he has already added Sergei Gonchar and Bryan Allen with both Tinordi and
Pateryn, among others, in the AHL. And even then, would anyone be
surprised if the next trade is for another blueliner?