The first round couldn’t have gotten off to much of a better start for the Habs who find themselves on the verge of a Round 1 victory after winning each of the first three games against Ottawa. In Hamilton, the Bulldogs gave it a good shot but fell short in their postseason run, extending their playoff drought to four straight years.
Cheers and Jeers
1) The ‘Buffalo brigade’. Brian Flynn was virtually invisible during the regular season when he played and Torrey Mitchell wasn’t much better. Three games into this series and both players have played key roles, especially in Games 1 and 3. It took a while but those cheap deadline acquisitions have made their mark.
2) Jeff Petry. Speaking of those deadline acquisitions, Petry certainly doesn’t look like a player suiting up for his first NHL postseason series. His confidence is growing by the game and it really has been something to enjoy. In Edmonton, his runs like this often resulted in a downward spiral so I won’t get too excited but right now, he is a difference maker on the second pairing.
3) Contributions from all four lines. After just two games in the series, each line had at least one goal. That type of balance hasn’t existed for most of the season and has allowed the Habs to be victorious in each game despite the top players not producing as much as expected.
1) P.K. Subban. Forget about whether or not the slash was deliberate or even if he was looking when he hit Mark Stone. Why in the world is Subban winding up to hack at someone in the first place? The team was already shorthanded and had it not been for Kyle Turris taking a roughing minor, Ottawa would have had a two man advantage that very easily could have changed the outcome of the game and based on what we know now, the series as well. For any Hab to do that is unacceptable. For a leader on the team to do what Subban did is simply inexcusable. There was a lot of criticism after what happened but nowhere near enough was directed at where it should have went in the first place, squarely at Subban.
2) The complaints about Stone not even missing a single game and calling for an embellishment fine. Subban hacked Stone pretty hard and even though he returned to the game and has played since, there’s no denying whatsoever that an injury was sustained on the play. Was the reaction over the top? Yes, and I don’t think there would be too many who would suggest otherwise, especially with the benefit of hindsight. But an injury is an injury and the fact that he did suffer one makes the original call on the ice the correct one. Many players play through injuries in the postseason and Stone is no exception. That doesn’t mean he’s not hurt though.
3) The power play. I had held out the faintest bit of hope that the team could tweak their strategy to better match Ottawa’s penalty kill structure. That hasn’t happened so far and the PP has been more of the same as it has been all season. Improvements there would really be handy.
|25||Jacob de la Rose||3||0||0||E||2||4||43:19|
Goals: Dale Weise (2)
Assists: 5 tied with (2)
Points: Flynn/Mitchell/Subban (3)
+/-: Mitchell/Prust (+4)
PIMS: P.K. Subban (15)
Shots: P.K. Subban (15)
The Dog Pound
Although they kept it interesting until the final days, the playoff drought will continue for Montreal’s AHL affiliate as the Bulldogs were only able to pick up three of six points and as a result, finished 10th overall in the Western Conference.
News and Notes:
– Charles Hudon, Drayson Bowman, and Gabriel Dumont all sat out the final game due to various injuries.
– Six players have been recalled to Montreal as Black Aces. The Bulldogs also sent Morgan Ellis and Stefan Fournier to Wheeling to aid in their playoff run.
– Joey MacDonald was summoned earlier in the week so Brandon Whitney inked a tryout deal and played in the final game against Lake Erie.
– Daniel Carr led all AHL rookies in goals while Charles Hudon was second among freshmen in assists and points.
– Lines from the most recent game:
Carr – Andrighetto – Thomas
Tangradi – Hensick – Sorkin
Crisp – Dowell – McNally
Bozon – Fournier
Bennett – Dietz
Ellis – Lernout
Shea – Didier
Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Daniel Carr (24)
Assists: T.J. Hensick (41)
Points: T.J. Hensick (60)
+/-: Davis Drewiske (+15)
PIMS: Joe Finley (132)
Shots: T.J. Hensick (183)
This past weekend, though successful for the Habs, was also a bittersweet one with the Bulldogs falling a bit short on their last ditch attempt to make the playoffs and as a result, playing their final game in franchise history. In our 11.5 years online, the Bulldogs have been the only AHL affiliate of the Canadiens and having written about them for most of that time, I’ve spent many a night catching a game; it had more or less been a tradition to pen this particular column while listening to the Bulldogs play. While I surely will still be able to maintain that with the team moving to St. John’s, I highly doubt it will have that same feeling with the team being there only for the short-term.
It has been fun, Hamilton. Thanks for the memories.