The extra rest after the All Star break meant little for the Habs last week although they improved on the weekend with two wins. For St. John’s, their freefall in the standings continues; my Final Thought looks at the IceCaps and why some of the youngsters there may not get a look even if Montreal sells at the deadline.
Cheers and Jeers
1) Ben Scrivens. A tough start on Saturday may have been the end of him with the Habs as at some point, Marc Bergevin would have wanted to try someone else out if Scrivens just kept losing. Getting two straight wins on the weekend – even against weak opponents – will buy him a few more games at the very least now.
2) Tomas Plekanec. He was more than due for a good game and his four point outing against the Oilers suggests he’s not quite over the hill just yet. I know most want Alex Galchenyuk at centre but the way that line has played the last couple of games, I think this new ‘top line’ with Plekanec down the middle will be staying together for a bit.
3) P.K. Subban’s quiet point streak. Despite the overall offensive struggles of the team, Subban quietly has a six game point streak going. Going back further, he has at least a point in twelve of his last thirteen games as he had another six game consecutive stretch back in January. That’s a good string of games at any time but is even more impressive when the team is struggling to score.
1) The recent penalty kill struggles. Lost in the fact that Montreal just isn’t getting enough goals is that the penalty kill is once again scuffling. In the past five games, they’ve allowed five goals while shorthanded with a success rate of just 67%. A strong penalty kill can help overcome scoring deficiencies but when it and the offence is struggling, you get a recipe for a whole lot of losing.
2) Bad injury luck for Lucas Lessio. In his first game with Montreal, one where he was playing well, he gets injured on an iffy hit from Radko Gudas and will now miss a few weeks. With Paul Byron set to return soon, this past week was Lessio’s chance to showcase himself a bit to his new organization. So much for that opportunity.
3) A poor start coming out of the All Star break. While the team played better against Philly and Buffalo than they did against Columbus, that’s not really much of an accomplishment. For a team in the dumps that had a week of rest, they did not come out of the break with anywhere near enough urgency.
Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Max Pacioretty (20)
Assists: P.K. Subban (37)
Points: P.K. Subban (42)
+/-: P.K. Subban (+7)
PIMS: P.K. Subban (49)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (210)
While the situation in St. John’s isn’t as dire as it is in Montreal, it’s heading in that direction. The IceCaps now sit fifth in the division and eleventh in the conference after a pair of losses to Utica, the team they need to catch to get back into a playoff spot.
News and Notes:
– The lineup looked a lot different this past week. Missing were Lucas Lessio (recalled/injured), Sven Andrighetto (recalled), John Scott (personal leave), plus Michael Bournival, Josiah Didier, Markus Eisenschmid, and Jeremy Gregoire (all injured).
– The IceCaps recalled Tim Bozon, Dalton Thrower, Angelo Miceli, and Brandon McNally from ECHL Brampton (forcing them to dress just 15 skaters in a game) as well as signing Shane Bakker (Wheeling) and Alexandre Ranger (Norfolk). Bakker spent some time with Hamilton last year in a fourth line role.
– Jacob de la Rose has shown some signs of life offensively. Over the last month, he has five points in eight games.
– Lines from last game:
Hudon – Scherbak – Holloway
de la Rose – Dumont – McCarron
Bozon – MacMillan – Friberg
Bakker – Miceli – Ranger
Bartley – Ellis
Hanley – Lernout
Johnston – Dietz
|20||Jacob de la Rose||2||2||0||+1||8||0|
Goals: Charles Hudon (14)
Assists: Bud Holloway (24)
Points: Bud Holloway (37)
+/-: Morgan Ellis (+9)
PIMS: Michael McCarron (65)
Shots: Charles Hudon (114)
February 9: Syracuse vs St. John’s
February 10: Syracuse vs St. John’s
February 13: Toronto vs St. John’s
February 14: Toronto vs St. John’s
Marc Bergevin spent the weekend in St. John’s, presumably to evaluate how some of the prospects are progressing in advance of the trade deadline. Unfortunately, with the team missing so many players, I don’t think he got to learn a whole lot. There isn’t a whole lot of NHL ready talent on this team and while some would like to see players like Michael McCarron get another NHL look, they also have a lot more to work on in the minors; there’s a strong case to be made to not bring him up again this season.
Where am I going with this? Assuming the Habs wind up selling, don’t be surprised if they wind up taking a couple of veteran depth players back so that they don’t have to pull three or four players up from the IceCaps. They may not want to expose some of the prospects to a situation where they’re not quite ready to play but also kill St. John’s playoff hopes in the process. Many are clamouring for the youngsters to get a chance; despite Montreal’s struggles, it’s not as certain to happen as it might seem at first glance.