It’s far too early to say the Habs are back on track but they took some strides towards getting there this past week with a couple of big wins over divisional rivals. In St. John’s, things weren’t as rosy as the team dropped two of three games. Plus. Marc Bergevin is being sent a message by the hockey gods right now which is the focus of my Final Thought.
Cheers and Jeers
1) Mike Condon. He played quite well in the much-needed win vs Tampa Bay while he followed that up with another strong effort against Boston. I think getting a more reliable backup in Scrivens will do wonders for Condon as the pressure won’t be on him quite so much as it has been. Condon playing better should also provide a bit of a lift to the rest of the team as well.
2) Brendan Gallagher. I don’t want to pin Montreal’s strong play in the Winter Classic solely on him but his presence made the top line more dangerous while allowing Dale Weise to go back into a bottom six role which helped make the Desharnais line more dangerous. Plus, the way he plays has to positively rub off on other players as well. Gallagher being back wasn’t the only reason the Habs looked like the Habs again but he made a big impact for sure.
3) A more balanced attack. Every line scored at least once and three of the lines had at least two goals. Montreal isn’t a top-heavy team when it comes to their attack; instead, they’re best when scoring by committee. This past week was the first time we saw that actually happen in quite a while.
1) Tomas Fleischmann. Everyone knew he’d be due for a cold spell after his surprisingly strong start to the season but this streak is approaching an entire quarter of the season. In his last 18 games, he has just one goal and one assist. Expectations shouldn’t be at the level of his early season play but there’s no doubt Fleischmann can bring more to Montreal’s attack than he has over the last six weeks.
2) The continued struggles on the road penalty kill. Up until the last couple of games, it was starting to feel like a guarantee that the opposition was going to score on one of their man advantages. Through 21 road games, Montreal has allowed 15 opposition PPG’s. By comparison, they’ve allowed just five in 19 home contests.
3) Jeff Petry’s recent defensive zone woes. At the beginning of the season, he was at his best but the last few weeks have been a struggle in both the offensive and defensive zones. I don’t know if whatever cost him a couple of games two weeks back is still in play or what’s going on but it would be nice to see him get back to his usual dependable self soon.
Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Max Pacioretty (16)
Assists: P.K. Subban (26)
Points: Max Pacioretty (31)
+/-: P.K. Subban (+11)
PIMS: P.K. Subban (39)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (159)
The IceCaps had a trio of divisional matchups vs opponents behind them in the standings but weren’t able to take advantage as they won just one of those three games.
News and Notes:
– Michael McCarron took a puck to the face against Rochester and missed the last two games. He is expected to be ready to go against Portland next week though.
– Lucas Lessio has collected a point in five of his first six games with St. John’s.
– Tim Bozon and Dalton Thrower were called up from Brampton of the ECHL. Thrower got into two games while Bozon was a healthy scratch all week.
– Lines from last game:
Lessio – Hudon – Holloway
Bournival – de la Rose – Dumont
MacMillan – Eisenschmid – Fournier
McNally – Gregoire
Ellis – Dietz
Hanley – Lernout
Bennett – Didier
|20||Jacob de la Rose||3||0||0||+1||2||0|
Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Michael McCarron (13)
Assists: Bud Holloway (22)
Points: Bud Holloway (30)
+/-: Morgan Ellis (+10)
PIMS: Stefan Fournier (58)
Shots: Charles Hudon (83)
January 8: Portland vs St. John’s
January 9: Portland vs St. John’s
The presence of ‘hockey gods’ is often debated but I’m starting to think there should be little doubt about the fact they’re trying to send a message to Marc Bergevin right about now. The Habs have long needed another strong right winger. Bergevin tried to address it through a couple of smaller moves in the summer but of course those didn’t work out, nor did the patchwork attempts in prior years. In fact, something has gone awry with what was their original top four RW’s through training camp:
Brendan Gallagher – breaks two fingers, out for 17 games.
Alexander Semin – didn’t mesh with Michel Therrien, goes through waivers twice and released. (He has two points in four KHL games so far, for anyone wondering.)
Zack Kassian – sent to rehab and dealt pretty much as soon as he came back.
Dale Weise – now out 2-3 weeks with an upper body injury.
If you want to go even further, Devante Smith-Pelly, their other RW to start the season, has been on IR as well.
Not one right winger has got by unscathed so far this season (if I’m Sven Andrighetto, I’m starting to get worried). While it’s frustrating, it also has been a blessing in disguise as the Habs have learned that the solution isn’t coming from within; this has greatly emphasized the need for Bergevin to pick up another legitimate right winger. We’ll find out in the next couple of months if the message has been received.