Tough losses to weak opponents kicked off the
week for both the Habs and Bulldogs but both teams made up for their early
struggles with important victories over stronger teams on the weekend to hold
their ground in their respective playoff races. Also, with the trade
deadline fast approaching, my Final Thought argues why the Canadiens should be
looking to make their moves now instead of waiting until deadline day itself.
1) Dale Weise. I’m among the many critics
of having him on the top line but I’ll give credit where credit is due.
Weise was a big factor in the two victories over the weekend and he did it by
doing all the little things, making a good pass, getting to the net, and potting
home rebounds. I’m not prepared to call this an ideal fit long-term but
the trio has earned a few more games together at the very least.
2) P.K. Subban. Against the Devils, the
Habs weren’t playing their best by any stretch and it was Subban who turned
their fortunes around. He made smart and quick decisions with the puck on
his stick and really stepped up when the team was in desperate need of a
momentum shift. That’s what they need from him and he delivered.
3) Snapping slumps. A lot of the goal
scorers from this week snapped some slumps – Plekanec/Weise (scoreless in six),
Desharnais (scoreless in five), Prust (scoreless in fifteen), and Eller
(scoreless in fourteen). It’s one thing to win when it’s the likes of
Pacioretty carrying the offence. It’s even better when it’s a group effort
and getting rid of these slumps should certainly help in the confidence
1) Losing to Buffalo again. Losses to bad
teams happen, but losing three in a row to the NHL’s worst team is a whole other
story. With the Atlantic Division being as tightly contested as it is,
these miscues against lousy opponents are really going to come back to bite them
before the season ends.
2) Continuing to bench Mike Weaver. I
know he hasn’t had the greatest of years but playing him in two games in a six
week span (since being healthy enough to return) isn’t good enough. He’s
still a legitimate NHL defenceman so take advantage of that and give some
players a night off. With the exception of the top pairing, any of the
other blueliners could sit once in a while. That would help keep them
fresh and Weaver in playing shape. It seems like a win-win to me.
3) Jiri Sekac’s offensive slump. The
rookie hasn’t scored in sixteen games and has just two assists in that span.
In theory it would be nice to bump him up in the lineup but that lack of
production will cause any coach to stay away from doing so. He isn’t
playing particularly poorly but Sekac is going to need to turn some of his good
work into points on the scoreboard if he wants to get out of the 3rd/4th line
shuffle he currently finds himself in.
Jacob de la Rose
Goals: Max Pacioretty (24)
Assists: P.K. Subban (25)
Points: Max Pacioretty (45)
+/-: Max Pacioretty (+28) – 2nd in NHL
PIMS: Brandon Prust (92)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (194)
Although the Bulldogs were unable to beat
basement-dwelling Iowa for a third straight game, they were able to follow it up
with a strong effort against Lake Erie to split the week.
– Darren Dietz missed both games this past week
due to an unspecified injury. He’s listed as day-to-day.
– Daniel Carr is now three goals away from
tying the league lead for goals by a rookie. For anyone wondering who the
rookie leader is in assists and points, it’s still Charles Hudon.
– Mike Condon has won six straight games,
allowing just seven goals in that span. Meanwhile, Joey MacDonald has
allowed three or more goals in all but two of his last twelve starts.
– Lines from the most recent game:
Carr – Hudon – Tangradi
Bowman – Hensick – Andrighetto
Macenauer – Dowell – Sorkin
Bakker – Gill – Fournier
Tinordi – Drewiske
Allen – Pateryn
Bennett – Shea
Goals: Daniel Carr (13)
Assists: Charles Hudon (29)
Points: Charles Hudon (41)
+/-: Davis Drewiske (+14)
PIMS: Joe Finley (103)
Shots: T.J Hensick (113)
February 10: Iowa vs Hamilton
February 13: Toronto vs Hamilton
There are two schools of thought when it comes
to adding at the trade deadline. The first is to make the big move on
deadline day and send a message to your team (and to the rest of the league)
that you mean business. The other is to make the move(s) beforehand.
The team gets to use the new players a bit more but it also gives the other
squads more time to make a counter-trade. While the Habs successfully
applied the first method last year, I’m hopeful that they go a different way
this time around.
Last year, the likes of Marian Gaborik and
Thomas Vanek were on the block. With all due respect to Antoine Vermette,
likely the top player available, he’s not in that class. There isn’t that
big splash to send shockwaves throughout the league and in the room. It
seems more likely to me that the Habs opt to make a couple of smaller depth
moves so why wait if you get the price you like? Other teams aren’t going
to look at the Habs adding a top nine winger and see it as a power shift so
there’s little worry about counter-trades either.
Doing the deals beforehand makes deadline day a
bit of a dud but if that’s the worst that could come from showing your hand
early, it’s worth putting the cards on the table now. There’s more time to
work on team chemistry and the added player(s) may help win a game or two in a
very compressed February schedule. There are lots of benefits to making
the early trade even if doing the exact opposite worked well last year.
If you’re wondering how much cap space the Habs
have, don’t forget to bookmark our trusty
Cap Sheet. There,
you’ll find how much space the Habs have as of today as well as on deadline day,
plus much more.