It was a winning week all around as the Habs took care of business in all three of their games to extend their season-long winning streak to six straight while the IceCaps were victorious in both of their home contests as well. Plus, there aren’t many challenges that a 6-0 team presents but my Final Thought looks at one that Michel Therrien is likely to face before too long.
Cheers and Jeers
1) David Desharnais, who is fitting nicely into his reduced role. His line is still defensively responsible but having him on that lower line has really boosted the offensive potential of that trio and having that third line be a scoring threat has really been big in the early going. Finding out he’s doing this while playing through a minor injury makes his start particularly impressive.
2) Alexei Emelin. In the early going this year, he looks like, well, Alexei Emelin. Last year he was often a step slow, caught in between decisions of whether to pinch or not, whether to go for the hit or not, etc. He seems more aggressive and decisive now while he also appears to be skating a bit better. And, of course, he’s leading the way in the physicality department as well.
3) Forward ice time management. Take a look at the TOI numbers below for the forwards. Every player saw at least 34 minutes of action, or at least 11:20 per night. Contrast that to teams that have entire lines in the single digit minutes on a regular basis. It may be early but being able to use four lines consistently will pay dividends as the season and back-to-backs play out.
1) Alexander Semin’s inability to get the puck on net. His shot is his greatest asset yet he finds himself with fewer shots on goal than players like Nathan Beaulieu, Dale Weise, and Brian Flynn, none of whom will be confused for snipers any time soon. Semin’s line is playing well as things are going right now. Imagine what it would be like if Semin got his shot on target on a more regular basis.
2) Torrey Mitchell’s early questionable decision making. In terms of his performance/production, there’s nothing really to complain about. But, six games into the year, he has two very, shall I say, iffy plays as well, the slew foot against Boston (you can defend a teammate without slew footing the opponent) and a particularly harsh boarding play versus Detroit. There’s a toughness void on the fourth line but plays like that aren’t the way to play tougher.
3) The early over usage of Andrei Markov. While Michel Therrien is rolling four lines consistently, the same can’t be said for the blueline. We know P.K. Subban can handle a big workload but we know Markov is aging and struggles late in the year when he has a heavy workload. Yet, Markov is still pushing 24+ minutes most nights while Emelin and Beaulieu, who both are off to good starts, are actually playing less per night than last season. I know Markov’s a reliable safety blanket for Therrien but take advantage of a strong start and let Markov play a bit less.
Goals: Tomas Plekanec (5)
Assists: 5 tied with (4)
Points: Max Pacioretty (6)
+/-: Markov/Pacioretty (+8) (Tied for league lead)
PIMS: Torrey Mitchell (18)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (24)
Home ice was kind to the IceCaps this past week as they won ends of a back-to-back against Rochester.
News and Notes:
– Jacob de la Rose missed Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury. Other injuries include forwards Tim Bozon, Mark MacMillan, and Brandon McNally, plus defencemen Ryan Johnston and Josiah Didier.
– Former Hamilton Bulldog enforcer Eric Neilson was signed to a PTO.
– Three players have been sent down to ECHL Brampton: G Eddie Pasquale, D Travis Brown, and F Stefan Fournier.
– Lines from the most recent game:
Andrighetto – Hudon – Holloway
Carr – McCarron – Thomas
Scherbak – Dumont – Eisenschmid
Crisp – Miceli – Gregoire
Barberio – Ellis
Hanley – Dietz
Bennett – Lernout
|20||Jacob de la Rose||1||0||0||+1||1||2|
Goals: Christian Thomas (3)
Assists: Holloway/Hudon (4)
Points: Bud Holloway (6)
+/-: 5 tied with (+4)
PIMS: Morgan Ellis (19)
Shots: Bud Holloway (17)
October 20: Binghamton vs St. John’s
October 21: Binghamton vs St. John’s
October 24: Bridgeport vs St. John’s
October 25: Bridgeport vs St. John’s
We’re six games into the season and the lines remain intact. In this day and age, lines remaining for six periods seem to be rare let alone six games. Michel Therrien’s patience with his units has paid off so far as the team has rewarded him with five strong games after a clunker to start the season in Toronto.
The team being unbeaten at this stage presents another challenge for Therrien though. The team has done as well as it has without changing things but if they struggle for a game or two (or even a period or two), will he remain patient and keep things together or ‘go to the blender’?
Personally, I’m hopeful he keeps things together and gives the lines a chance to play out of any scuffle they may fall into over the coming games. Their strong play has earned them the benefit of the doubt and a bit of a longer leash. I’ll be curious to see if Therrien and the coaching staff feel the same way.