It took three attempts to finish off the series but the Habs finally eliminated the Senators to move onto the second round of the playoffs. While we wait for who their next opponent will be, we have a chance to look back at some of the good and bad from Round One with the weekly Cheers and Jeers.
Cheers and Jeers
1) Brendan Gallagher, for showing you can still be successful in the postseason even if you’re small in stature. A common point that gets made at this time of year is that small players will struggle as the physicality picks up. That may be true for some but not for Gallagher, who was the one top six forward who made his presence felt in each game in the Ottawa series.
2) Tom Gilbert. Yes, Gilbert. Lost among the consistent ranting about him is that he put in a pretty good series. He’s going to have some adventures in his own end but to his credit, he blocks enough shots to help compensate for that; he led the Habs in blocks by a country mile in the first round. Offensively, he made some good, subtle decisions with and without the puck which was also good. He’s a third pairing player, no doubt, but for the role he has, he’s a good option more often than not which is what we saw against the Sens.
3) Carey Price’s response after Game 5. He and everyone else knew he had a stinker of a game when he allowed five goals to let Ottawa back into the series. The best goalies are the ones who go out and make up for it the next time out instead of moping about it. Pitching a shutout to clinch a series…that’s as good of a response as it gets.
1) Andrei Markov. It’s understandable to think that he’d start to run out of gas at some point in a long postseason run. Looking fatigued in Game 1 of the first round and throughout the entire series is a problem. He’s too important a player on this blueline to really sit for any sort of lengthy period of time. Maybe this break gets him re-energized a bit. Here’s hoping it does as otherwise, this D corps could be in trouble.
2) The lack of production from the centre position. Three goals in six games isn’t very good. Getting one from Torrey Mitchell was nice but Lars Eller, Tomas Plekanec, and David Desharnais combining for just two wasn’t. Eller played quite well at least while Plekanec and Desharnais had their moments but teams need more production and consistency from their centres, especially their top two. They’ll need to be better next round.
3) Michel Therrien’s hesitance to sit Jacob de la Rose. I know he’s young and some struggles are to be expected and honestly, his recent play isn’t all that concerning to me in terms of the big picture. However, Therrien seems unwilling to drop him for long periods of time on the depth chart let alone pull him out of the lineup. Part of proper player development is knowing when to give young players a different view from the press box. That time needs to be now or at least in the very near future.
|25||Jacob de la Rose||3||0||0||-1||2||3||34:09|
Goals: Pacioretty/Weise (2)
Assists: P.K. Subban (3)
Points: P.K. Subban (4)
+/-: Tom Gilbert (+4)
PIMS: P.K. Subban (25)
Shots: P.K. Subban (23)
The Dog Pound
The Bulldogs season has come to an end but the injury reports continue. Last week, the team announced that Jarred Tinordi has undergone wrist surgery and will miss the next 2-3 months, putting an end to any hopes that he’ll be available for the playoffs. Gabriel Dumont’s broken foot will keep him out of commission until likely the Stanley Cup Final. However, Sven Andrighetto is only expected to miss another week or so with a shoulder injury. It doesn’t appear as if Team Switzerland is holding a spot for him so he may join the Canadiens in the next little while.
The Wheeling Nailers, Montreal’s ECHL affiliate, are on the verge of elimination in their postseason, trailing 3-2 to Toledo as of Monday. The Nailers are the #8 seed and feature quite a few players who have suited up for the Bulldogs this season – defencemen Morgan Ellis, David Makowski, and Bobby Shea, as well as forwards Shane Bakker and Sahir Gill. Of those, only Ellis is under contract to the Canadiens; he’s a pending RFA at the end of the season.
For those of you interested in the final grades for the Bulldogs season, those will be posted in early May.
A lot of the early comments after the Habs finally disposed of Ottawa reminded me of why I find the playoffs more fun when Montreal is the underdog. Instead of being happy about the win, the mentality seems to be ‘who cares, they were the higher seed and were supposed to win’. While it is true that the Canadiens won the division in the regular season, that alone clearly doesn’t dictate playoff performance.
Are the Habs a good team? Yes, they are. Is Ottawa a good team too? Yep. One good team beat another good team. I don’t think we’re seeing enough of that particular sentiment considering that’s really what happened here and it’s unfortunate as it undermines not only how Montreal played these last two weeks but Ottawa’s strong run as well in both the regular season and the playoffs. Both teams deserve their dues.