To put it nicely, it was a week to forget for the Habs whose offence has completely fallen off the wagon. It was a better week for the IceCaps who picked up a pair of key divisional wins while getting timely offence and good goaltending. Plus, Marc Bergevin made his first trade of the year; my Final Thought takes a closer look at the Lucas Lessio acquisition.
Cheers and Jeers
1) Nathan Beaulieu. After being benched for a game, he made a big impact in his first game back and was rewarded by Michel Therrien shortly thereafter with a trip to the top pairing where he held his own. Odds being odds, this isn’t a permanent move (I still expect Andrei Markov to move back up at some point) but the better he plays in this stint, the more likely Therrien will be willing to give it another look later on.
2) Daniel Carr. He may not have been the first of the players called up from St. John’s but it seems pretty obvious at this point that he is held in the highest standing of all the call-ups by the coaches. He has picked up a few points (particularly noteworthy given the overall offensive struggles for the team), is getting shots through to the net, and is playing an all-around smart game. It’s far too early to suggest he’ll stick the rest of the way but he is making a good case for himself.
3) The clock striking midnight on Saturday. This was not a particularly fun week so cheers to the fact it’s now over.
1) The anemic offence. Montreal is scoring just over 1.7 goals per game since Carey Price went down for a second time. Other than the call-ups who have done their job, hardly anyone else is getting it done – the top scorers, the depth scorers, etc. At this point, does it really matter who starts scoring as long as a few players can get going?
2) The struggles between the pipes. No one is expecting Mike Condon or Dustin Tokarski to steal a bunch of games but the goalies have allowed three or more goals eight times out of the last ten games. With the way the offence is going right now, allowing three goals is a death sentence. They need to keep it to two goals allowed a little more often to help give this team a better chance.
3) Constant line juggling. I get that Therrien is trying to find something that works but some of these new trios need more than a few periods together to see if there’s something there. They can’t wait forever to see if a line clicks but there’s a happy medium between that and game-to-game changes.
Goals: Max Pacioretty (14)
Assists: P.K. Subban (22)
Points: Tomas Plekanec (27)
+/-: P.K. Subban (+9)
PIMS: Alexei Emelin (33)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (139)
The Habs may not have had great goaltending (among their other issues) this past week but that wasn’t the case in St. John’s as both Zach Fucale and Eddie Pasquale were at the top of their games en route to a pair of important wins over Albany.
News and Notes:
– Jacob de la Rose is injured once again with an undisclosed injury. The good news is that the team is hopeful that he’ll be ready to return after their lengthy holiday break.
– Michael McCarron no longer leads the AHL in minor penalties taken after Rockford’s Ryan Hartman took three to pass him on Saturday night.
– Following Wednesday’s game, Eddie Pasquale was assigned to Brampton while Luke Pither was released from his PTO to also rejoin the Beast. Earlier in the week, Eric Neilson inked another PTO.
– Lines from last game:
Lessio – McCarron – Holloway
Bournival – Dumont – Fournier
Bozon – MacMillan – Gregoire
McNally – Pither – Neilson
Barberio – Dietz
Ellis – Didier
Hanley – Lernout
Goals: Michael McCarron (13)
Assists: Barberio/Holloway (18)
Points: Bud Holloway (25)
+/-: Morgan Ellis (+10)
PIMS: Michael McCarron (48)
Shots: Bud Holloway (71)
December 26: St. John’s vs Toronto
December 27: St. John’s vs Toronto
This past week, Marc Bergevin made his first trade of the year. It wasn’t the one that anyone was really hoping for though as instead of addressing either the offence or goaltending, he swapped struggling prospects by moving Christian Thomas for Lucas Lessio. For most trades we put together a reaction column but since this was a minor swap, we didn’t bother. So instead, I’ll offer up a few comments on the deal here.
Thomas got himself back on the radar with a strong start with St. John’s while holding his own with the Habs as well. Bergevin sold high when you consider that Thomas was available for free just two months ago. Of course, ‘high’ is a relative term here. I don’t think Thomas had much of a future with the Canadiens. He was already behind the likes of Sven Andrighetto, Daniel Carr, and Charles Hudon while he likely would have been behind Michael Bournival once he’s up to speed as well. Accordingly, there’s no real risk here in moving him.
Lessio probably doesn’t have as much overall talent as Thomas does but he’d be a better fit on the roster moving forward. The Habs are building a fourth line around speed and want players that have some grit and a bit of skill as well. That more or less describes Lessio. With him being waiver exempt for the rest of the season, they can take their time and see how he fits into a new system and go from there. If he acquits himself well, there’s a chance we’ll see him before too long with the big club.
It’s not a thrilling deal and unless one of the two players really pans out, it’s not going to be a steal. But Lessio has a better shot at cracking the lineup than Thomas which makes this swap a good one for the Habs…even if it’s not the one anyone was really hoping for.