It was another iffy week for the Habs who played well at some times and really struggled at others. Things were even worse in St. John’s as they had a pair of poor efforts over the weekend. Marc Bergevin made a small move this past week; my Final Thought gives all the analysis you’ll need on the swap.
Cheers and Jeers
1) Mike Condon. The rookie netminder has turned in four straight strong performances and has allowed two or less in three straight games for the first time since his run of seven straight to start the season. The goal support is still inconsistent but Condon looks a lot more confident all of a sudden and it’s showing in his play.
2) Improvements at the faceoff dot. For most of the year, the Habs have hovered a little under the 50% mark as a team. The last five games though, Montreal has been the better team in each one, winning at least 52.6% in each game. Part of scoring more generally involves having the puck more so this is a start.
3) P.K. Subban snapping his goalless drought. He was more than due to get one. It would be nice if this sparks a mini-run of sorts, especially since the Canadiens are heading into a trio of very tough games against the West this week. However…
1) Subban’s postgame comment about how it’s not his job to score goals. Last time I checked, the Habs weren’t giving him more money than any other player in franchise history to be a good stay-at-home defenceman. No one expects him to lead the team in goals here but part of his job is to score more than once every 20 games, especially since he gets more power play time than anyone else. I get that he was frustrated; here’s hoping those comments were simply a result of that and not an actual mindset that it’s not his job to score.
2) The team for failing to show up in either of Ben Scrivens’ starts so far. They were awful against Florida and while they made it close vs the Flyers, the score certainly flattered the Habs who were terrible for lengthy stretches of the game. I want to see what Scrivens can do when the defence actually defends with some consistency…maybe this will be the week it happens?
3) Alexei Emelin and Jeff Petry, who have been playing through injuries and the doctors who are letting them do so. Montreal has decent defensive depth and it’s not as if the back end has fared well with these two playing at less than 100%. It’s not the playoffs here, nor is it time to fight tooth and nail to get there. If they’re not fully healthy, sit them – or at least one of them which they finally did when they shut Petry down. Take better advantage of that depth that has been stockpiled by Marc Bergevin.
Goals: Max Pacioretty (17)
Assists: P.K. Subban (27)
Points: Max Pacioretty (33)
+/-: P.K. Subban (+11)
PIMS: P.K. Subban (43)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (166)
If you thought it was a tough week in Montreal, it was even worse in St. John’s. The IceCaps were outplayed and simply outclassed in a pair of losses to Portland. It doesn’t get any easier this coming week as they’ll be visited by the top two teams in the AHL for two games apiece.
News and Notes:
– Michael McCarron returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with an upper body (facial) injury. Ryan Johnston and Nikita Scherbak are expected to return to practice sometime during this week.
– McCarron and Mark Barberio were named to the upcoming AHL All-Star Classic. Surprisingly, Bud Holloway, despite leading the team in scoring, wasn’t invited.
– Tim Bozon was recalled from the ECHL back on December 29th. He was a healthy scratch in all five games since then and was sent back to Brampton on Sunday.
– Lines from last game:
Lessio – McCarron – Friberg
Bournival – de la Rose – Dumont
Hudon – Eisenschmid – Holloway
MacMillan – Gregoire
Ellis – Dietz
Hanley – Lernout
Bennett – Thrower
January 8: Portland 5, St. John’s 1
January 9: Portland 4, St. John’s 1
|20||Jacob de la Rose||2||0||1||-1||3||2|
Goals: Michael McCarron (13)
Assists: Bud Holloway (22)
Points: Bud Holloway (31)
+/-: Morgan Ellis (+8)
PIMS: Stefan Fournier (58)
Shots: Bud Holloway (89)
January 12: W-B/Scranton vs St. John’s
January 13: W-B/Scranton vs St. John’s
January 16: Toronto vs St. John’s
January 17: Toronto vs St. John’s
This past week, the Habs made another minor deal. We didn’t bother with our usual Writers Weigh In piece as quite frankly, there isn’t a whole lot to weigh in on as a group for a strictly AHL transaction. Nonetheless, if you’re starved for analysis of the trade, I’ll offer up my two cents here.
Friberg is a nice addition to a St. John’s forward group that could benefit from some help, especially with at least one of Sven Andrighetto and Daniel Carr up for the foreseeable future. His speed makes him a good fit for the ‘ideal’ fourth line (Montreal seems to be trending towards that line being filled with strong skaters) and he has the grit – though not necessarily the size – to succeed in that role. I’m not entirely sold on there being a whole lot more upside with him offensively but at the very least, he could be a serviceable call-up.
Tokarski, meanwhile, wasn’t all that serviceable in his stint with the Habs this season. He clearly isn’t playing with confidence and the team didn’t have much faith in him. This opens up more playing time for Zach Fucale, at least in the short-term as someone will have to go down when Carey Price returns. If Montreal opts to waive Scrivens (and not send Condon down instead) when that happens, they run the risk of not having a veteran to turn to if Price re-aggravates his injury once again which is a bit of a risk. However, veteran #3 goalies aren’t that hard to get near the trade deadline so it’s not all that concerning.
There was little doubt that Tokarski wasn’t going to be back next year, especially with the expectation being that Fucale would be the #3 goalie (#1 in the minors). Friberg has another cheap year left on his deal after this season so moving forward, there’s a small chance of getting a little something out of next to nothing. If nothing else, Friberg can be a useful fill-in for St. John’s, especially if you’re like me and think a prospect or two up front will be on the move at some point.