The second round has not got off to the start that the Habs would have liked. They lost both games at home to Tampa Bay, ceding home ice advantage while largely embarrassing themselves in the second game to make matters worse. Now, they must travel to Tampa to try to stay alive. What happened on Sunday night does present Marc Bergevin with an interesting evaluation opportunity though which is the focus of my Final Thought.
Cheers and Jeers
1) Jeff Petry. With Andrei Markov’s struggles continuing, Petry is seeing his minutes climb in a hurry and he isn’t having any issues with the extra time. Offensively he has gone largely quiet compared to the end of the season but that was to be expected. He’s lining himself up for a nice pay day in free agency.
2) Devante Smith-Pelly. I don’t know what he has done to draw the ire of Michel Therrien to have him dropped to the 4th line but he has played extremely physical and has made some nice plays all around. We’re still waiting on that offence but he is playing well aside from being in a slump (like pretty much everyone else is).
3) The starts to both games. We all know that the Habs aren’t exactly a quick-starting team but they have come out flying in both games and haven’t been rewarded enough for their troubles. They’re going to need to keep that up as the series shifts to Tampa Bay.
1) Brandon Prust. Let’s not forget that this is not the first time he has had an issue with the referees this year where he’s thrown an on-ice tantrum and he also had this come up last season. When things go bad, he acts up and pouts. He’s thought of by many fans as a leader but this is not what a true leader does. Part of me wonders that if the Habs had sat him down in past instances where he has blown up against officials (as they should have), would Sunday’s incident have happened? Instead, like before, this will be dealt with internally where he’ll get a talking to and nothing more. Most will forget about this…until it happens again. And guess what, it almost assuredly will.
2) Alex Galchenyuk’s struggles. Last postseason, he wasn’t at his best but he was just coming back off of injury so no one thought anything of it. This year’s issues are more puzzling. He’s healthy but the willingness to battle just doesn’t seem to be there. He needs to find that next gear and soon.
3) The ever-increasing ‘Subban against the World’ moments. Several times a period now, Subban is gearing up to go one vs the opponent and to the surprise of no one other than Subban himself, it’s not working. Add to that his tendency to spin with the puck way too frequently and we have a player who is playing way too much of a me-first game. While some are still waiting for the coaching staff to stop reigning him in, I’m in the other camp – I’m wondering when they’re going to start reigning him in. It needs to happen as soon as possible.
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Goals: Max Pacioretty (3)
Assists: P.K. Subban (4)
Points: P.K. Subban (5)
+/-: Gallagher/Plekanec/Weise (+3)
PIMS: Brandon Prust (35)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (35)
The Dog Pound
– Michael Bournival and Sven Andrighetto have resumed some on-ice activities in Brossard. This means that both are nearing the green light from doctors and given where they are, they’ll officially be recalled to the Black Aces as soon as the doctor signs off.
– Wheeling (ECHL) made a good run at their first round series but fell to the #1 seed in Toledo in a Game 7 overtime loss. This means that the only two prospects in Montreal’s system that are still playing are Michael McCarron (Oshawa, OHL) and Zach Fucale (Quebec, QMJHL). Both players are in their respective league finals.
There’s no sugar coating the situation the Habs now face. They’re in tough to get back into this series but what happened in Game 2 presents an interesting evaluation opportunity for Marc Bergevin. Two years ago, their emotions got the better of them against Ottawa and after that happened, they folded without much of a pushback. Given that it was the first year with their new coach and quite a few new players, it was filed in the memory banks but nothing drastic was done.
Now, we have a situation where once again, emotions and indiscipline got the best of them. Have they learned from two years ago? If they do and put forth a better effort and performance moving forward, it’s a sign of growth. If history repeats itself though, that’s going to be a pretty strong message to Bergevin about the unwillingness/inability of this core (and by extension, the coaching staff) to bounce back when times get tough. If that happens, I suspect that the GM will be much more amenable to taking a bigger swing when it comes to changing up the roster for next year.