It was a perfect week in the win-loss column
for the Habs as they won all four games away from home, extending their winning
streak to six in a row. As for the Bulldogs, they picked up three of a
possible six points on a road trip of their own. Nathan Beaulieu is
earning more ice time with each game he plays, my Final Thought looks at what
has changed that has moved him up the depth chart.
1) Michael Bournival, who for the first time
all season, finally had something go his way. Between injuries and
benchings, he hasn’t anything to really be happy about (short of playing well
when assigned to Hamilton) but a two goal night in New Jersey (including the
game winner) should have him feeling confident for the first time in a while.
2) Carey Price, for taking stingy to a whole
new level. In his last nine starts, he has allowed all of twelve goals and
no more than two in a single game. As much as Montreal’s offence has been
inconsistent and sporadic at times, goaltending like that is going to give any
team a whole lot of success.
3) Being road warriors. Five wins out of
five is a tough feat to accomplish, even if some of the games were against
non-playoff opponents. The Habs now once again have a nice cushion to keep
them afloat should they start to slump again later in the year. It’s not
often that such a cushion comes from a road trip.
1) No first period offence. Including
their two opening frame goals against Pittsburgh, Montreal has just 14 goals on
the season in the first 20 minutes. We know their success in the 2nd/3rd
and that they’re a good defensive team early in games but just imagine if they
could even be average in the goal scoring department when it comes to the first
period. That would certainly take a lot of pressure of the goalies at the
2) The road powerplay. While it may sound
nice that the Habs scored 20% of their road PPG’s on this road trip, it’s not so
good when you consider than 20% equals one goal. When the man advantage
isn’t working, start shooting more often. Right now, they’re not doing
enough of that as the points are being covered well. Either free them up
for shots or get more pucks to the net down low.
3) Complaining about wins. Even though
the Canadiens swept the road trip, there are still plenty of complaints.
They didn’t dominate as much as they should have, their Corsi number is too low,
Price did everything, this guy is playing more than that guy, etc. While
these are all valid points to bring up, be happy that they got the win
regardless instead of just hammering home the negatives. Personally, I’m
generally of the mindset that a win should be celebrated with a ‘yay’ rather
than a ‘yeah, but…’ This road trip was a big ‘yay’ in my books.
Shootout – Skaters
Shootout – Goalies
Goals: Max Pacioretty (16)
Assists: P.K. Subban (19)
Points: Max Pacioretty (31)
+/-: Max Pacioretty (+20)
PIMS: Brandon Prust (78)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (136)
The Bulldogs continue to tread water in the
standings after a road trip that saw them pick up three of a possible six
points. They’re not moving up much but they’re not losing a lot of ground
– The flu bug is going through the room as both
Eric Tangradi and Jarred Tinordi missed a game while several others played
through it. Gabriel Dumont wasn’t with the team as he was at home with his
wife as she was approaching the birth of their child.
– With the Bulldogs down to the bare minimum
for both forwards and defencemen, blueliner David Makowski was recalled from
ECHL Wheeling. It’s a good thing he was too as they needed to play him in
every game as it turned out.
– Hamilton leads the Western Conference in PIMS
by a considerable margin (55 as of games completed through Saturday).
Fortunately, they have a strong penalty kill (9th overall at 85.6%) that is
bailing them out of some dumb penalties.
– Lines from the most recent game:
Carr – Hensick – Thomas
Bowman – Hudon – Sorkin
Macenauer – Dowell – Tangradi
Nevins – Crisp – Bakker
Bennett – Pateryn
Drewiske – Dietz
Finley – Makowski
Goals: Charles Hudon (10)
Assists: Charles Hudon (23)
Points: Charles Hudon (33)
+/-: Bournival/Hudon (+6)
PIMS: Joe Finley (97)
Shots: Gabriel Dumont (89)
January 9: Utica vs Hamilton
January 10: Lake Erie vs Hamilton
January 11: Oklahoma City vs Hamilton
For the first time in his pro career, Nathan
Beaulieu is showing signs that he can contribute with more than sparing minutes
at the NHL level. While some are attributing it to swagger (that he
finally has some), I think it’s more or less the exact opposite.
Instead of trying to make things happen by
regularly pinching, rushing the puck, or trying to make the fancy play (aka,
swagger plays), he finally seems to have learned that it’s his defensive
performance that will get him ice time. Beaulieu isn’t going to make a
living in the NHL based on his offence alone so he needs to show that he can
regularly make the smart, safe, and simple play that all coaches love.
Right now, he is.
The offence should eventually come but if he
can keep making smart decisions, even if they’re not the flashy ones that many
crave, he’ll earn more trust from Michel Therrien and company and with that,
more ice time. That’s the key to his success, not how much swagger he has.