It was a tough week at the office for the Habs who twice blew third period leads to divisional rivals. It was an even tougher week for Alex Semin who now finds himself out of the NHL. My Final Thought discusses what Montreal should do to fill his now-vacated spot on the roster.
Cheers and Jeers
1) Michel Therrien for giving Dustin Tokarski a second straight start. It’s easy to say after the fact but I’d have been saying that regardless of Saturday’s outcome. Tokarski is a goalie who has admitted he plays better the more game action he gets while Mike Condon looks worn down. If Tokarski can carry the load, even for just two or three games, it’ll be a nice boost for the Habs and a nicer rest for Condon. That can’t happen if Tokarski had sat against the Sens.
2) The call-ups, who have been producing much better than last year. In 2014-15, the recalled forwards from Hamilton combined for 7-3-10 in 76 games. This season, the recalls up front from the IceCaps have ten points as well…but in only 22 contests. The youngsters have held their own thus far much better than last year which is a very good sign.
3) Brian Flynn, who has gone from an afterthought on the roster to an important fourth liner. With Torrey Mitchell hurt (he’s due to come back this coming week), Flynn took on a bigger role at the faceoff dot (and was above 50%) and has produced more than a typical fourth liner despite a frequent rotation of wingers in recent games. Nothing flashy but he gets the job done.
1) The lack of production from the blueline. The Habs are paying their top three defencemen a total of $20.25 M (cap hit) this season. They’re not getting much offence from that group – Subban has one goal all season, Petry was goalless in nine straight before Saturday, while Markov has just one goal in his last 23 games. The top forwards have taken some heat for the declining attack – and rightfully so – but the top guys on the back end aren’t pulling their weight very well either.
2) Dale Weise’s frequent power play appearances. He played over seven and a half minutes with the man advantage this past week (42.5% of the total PP time) despite the fact that he has just one goal in the last 16 games. Him getting time with the man advantage made sense when he was on a hot streak. That ended a while ago but the power play usage hasn’t. Options are slim on the RW but even playing one of the call-ups in that spot makes more sense at this time.
3) The third period struggles. Montreal is one of the best third period teams in the league in terms of goal differential but that hasn’t been the case lately with seven goals allowed in the last five games, several of which came in blowing leads against both Boston and Detroit this past week. It looks like the Habs are playing scared in the third which is odd considering their overall success this season. With the schedule getting tougher, that needs to change in a hurry.
Goals: Max Pacioretty (14)
Assists: Plekanec/Subban (20)
Points: Tomas Plekanec (27)
+/-: P.K. Subban (+13)
PIMS: Alexei Emelin (33)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (127)
St. John’s didn’t get off to the best of starts to their home stand, mustering just three goals in a pair of games versus Rochester.
News and Notes:
– Jacob de la Rose returned after missing just over a month with a knee injury. Michael Bournival also got into game action for the first time since mid-March.
– Michael McCarron has hit the first slump of his pro career. He has been held without a point in six straight games. He still sits sixth overall in scoring amongst rookies despite his struggles.
– Stefan Fournier now has four goals this season. In his first two pro seasons combined (AHL and ECHL), he had a total of two tallies.
– Lines from last game:
Miceli – McCarron – Holloway
Bournival – de la Rose – Dumont
McNally – MacMillan – Gregoire
Bozon – Pither – Fournier
Barberio – Dietz
Ellis – Didier
Hanley – Lernout
|20||Jacob de la Rose||2||1||1||+1||5||0|
Goals: Charles Hudon (10)
Assists: Barberio/Holloway (17)
Points: Bud Holloway (24)
+/-: Morgan Ellis (+8)
PIMS: Michael McCarron (48)
Shots: Charles Hudon (65)
December 15: Albany vs St. John’s
December 16: Albany vs St. John’s
The Alex Semin era has come to an end with little fanfare and even less production which falls pretty well in line with the rest of the attempted stop gap measures Marc Bergevin has tried at that particular position. How should the Habs be looking to fill his now-vacated roster spot?
As tempting as it is to suggest that one of the call-ups (such as Sven Andrighetto) could take that spot on a full-time basis, it’s not the ideal scenario. As much as Semin and the others before him were gambles, so too would be entrusting a spot in a scoring role to one of the rookies. In the short term, yes, they can help but I don’t think the team should be comfortable with one of them as a core piece heading into a postseason run.
A trade is needed here and I suspect I’m not surprising anyone with that particular proclamation. If this is the year that the Canadiens are going to make a run at a Stanley Cup, a more proven commodity will be needed. If they can hold off on acquiring one for a little while longer, it will serve well for their cap situation so I imagine the youngsters will continue to get a chance to play in Semin’s old spot for now. If one of them does well, they could play themselves right onto the roster of the team that Bergevin trades with to get that more proven player. Now that’s an opportunity you don’t see every day.