The Habs stepped up their play this past week,
playing a trio of strong games to extend their lead atop the Eastern Conference.
Although the Bulldogs aren’t vying for their conference lead, a solid week has
vaulted them into seventh, a ranking they haven’t hit in quite some time.
The recent trades have many on edge about Monday’s deadline but my Final Thought
looks at why this might help the Habs instead of hurting them.
1) Another week of firsts. Jacob de la
Rose scored his first NHL goal (following it up later in the period with his
first NHL empty net marker) while Manny Malhotra finally got the monkey off his
back by tallying his first as a Hab. He also is on his first ever
multi-game point streak as a Canadien. Contributions from outside the top
six have been sporadic this year so it’s nice to see some new faces chipping in.
2) First period scoring, something that hasn’t
been said very often this season. Of the fourteen goals the team scored in
three games (a total that really deserves a cheer in itself), six of them came
in the opening twenty minutes. Good starts take a lot of pressure off as
the game progresses and after playing catch-up so often, it’s nice to see them
get the lead early and hold on to it.
3) Tom Gilbert, who has picked up his play in
recent weeks. Yes, he’s still softer on the puck than anyone would care to
see but lately, he has made a lot of strong plays in his own end while being his
usual steady self with the puck on his stick. He was forced into higher
minutes with Sergei Gonchar out and Gilbert made the most of them.
1) The overplaying of Brandon Prust. This
isn’t the first time I’ve complained about this and the way it’s going, I
suspect it won’t be the last. There are very few circumstances where he
should be seeing more time than Alex Galchenyuk and only one minute a night less
than a top liner in Brendan Gallagher. Prust is a role player and it’s
about time he starts getting played like one.
2) Failing to take advantage of an opportunity,
which happened with Jarred Tinordi. The youngster was decent but didn’t
stand out when he got his chance in the lineup and right now, decent isn’t good
enough to stay in the lineup. Greg Pateryn has had much less fanfare but
quietly was the more effective of the two rookies. Depending on how the
trade deadline shakes out, this may have been Tinordi’s last chance for a little
while. He’s going to be wishing he did more.
3) Mixing and matching with the new guy too
early. When a player is joining a new team, there’s a lot to process.
New teammates, a new system, new everything. Asking Devante Smith-Pelly to
deal with that while shuffling him between two lines – one offensively oriented
while the other defensively oriented – is making a challenging situation even
harder. Yes, they need to experiment to find his best role but that can be
done over a stretch of a few games, not just a few periods.
Jacob de la Rose
Goals: Max Pacioretty (30)
Assists: P.K. Subban (36)
Points: Max Pacioretty (55)
+/-: Max Pacioretty (+36) – 1st in NHL
PIMS: Brandon Prust (102)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (238) – 2nd in NHL
The Bulldogs received some reinforcements from
the Canadiens and put them to good use en route to picking up five of a possible
eight points while moving into 7th in the AHL’s Western Conference.
– Mac Bennett is now out of the lineup with an
upper body injury joining Jack Nevins and Magnus Nygren on the shelf.
– With Bennett out and Jarred Tinordi with the
Habs at the beginning of the week, Dalton Thrower was recalled from ECHL
Brampton although he didn’t play. Winger Stefan Fournier was also assigned
to ECHL Wheeling.
– Charles Hudon leads all rookies in assists
and points and has for a while. Now, they also have a co-leader in the
goal department as Daniel Carr’s team-leading 19 goals are tied with Connor
Brickley (San Antonio) for the most tallies by a rookie.
– Lines from the most recent game:
Carr – Hudon – Andrighetto
Bowman – Hensick – Tangradi
Thomas – Dumont – Dowell
Crisp – Gill – Sorkin
Allen – Drewiske
Tinordi – Dietz
Finley – Ellis
Goals: Daniel Carr (19)
Assists: Charles Hudon (36)
Points: Charles Hudon (48)
+/-: Daniel Carr (+16)
PIMS: Joe Finley (105)
Shots: T.J. Hensick (139)
Adirondack vs Hamilton
March 6: Rochester vs Hamilton
March 7: Utica vs Hamilton
Generally in the days before the trade
deadline, there’s a waiting period as buying teams are holding out for the
selling teams to drop their asking prices. That hasn’t been the case this
time though as many buyers have paid premium prices to get their guys. As
a result, many are getting anxious for Marc Bergevin to make another move.
The good news is that these trades in the last couple of days could very well
work in Montreal’s favour.
Some of the buyers have more or less taken
themselves out of the market as a result of their recent moves. While
those that haven’t done anything yet may be more motivated to move (overpay) for
what’s left, Bergevin doesn’t seem like he’ll be one to do that. It seems
more likely that he’ll wait for the price to be more realistic or use the teams’
cap space to add an insurance player or two from teams more desperate to get
something rather than lose the player for nothing. It may not make for a
fun deadline day but if it were to play out like that, it should be a good one