Home ice is proving to be a boon for the Habs as they picked up a couple more wins at the Bell Centre. Home ice wasn’t so kind to the IceCaps as they split their four games, hurting their playoff push in the process. Speaking of that push, my Final Thought discusses a squandered opportunity to improve their postseason chances.
Cheers and Jeers
1) Alex Galchenyuk, again. I try to avoid having the same names/topics come up in consecutive weeks but Galchenyuk has left me little choice after yet another dominant week offensively. Obviously he’s not going to keep this level of goal production up the rest of the way but if he can even come somewhat close to sustaining this level, he’ll send a strong message to the organization that he’s ready to take another step forward for next season.
2) Winning at home. Yes, that goes against the tank mentality that many fans have but one way to avoid the fans getting really vicious is to keep them happy on home ice. If they’re playing well and winning some games, we shouldn’t see the jersey throwing, the angry boo birds, and even some of the stupid off-ice stuff that only seems to come out during long losing streaks. Some wins on home ice can go a long way towards making the stretch run a lot easier to stomach.
3) Mark Barberio. He certainly held his own in a #2 role against the Wild on Saturday and overall this year, has more or less held his own in each role they’ve used him including playing on his off-side. There aren’t many benefits to a ton of injuries but Barberio has shown the Habs (and the rest of the NHL) that he’s worthy of a depth defenceman spot on a full-time basis for next year. There aren’t many bright spots at the moment but he’s one of them.
1) The end of P.K. Subban’s 274 game ironman streak and more specifically, how it came to an end. It’s really quite impressive that Subban, who plays as many minutes and the style that he does, was able to keep it going that long. But while all good streaks come to an end at some point, it’s particularly disappointing that it came at the hands of an innocent collision with a teammate. That stings just a bit more.
2) Jacob de la Rose’s continued struggles. While it’s expected that the young players will have their ups and downs, there have been a lot of downs for de la Rose in recent weeks. He was impressive at the beginning of his recall but since then, it’s as if he’s playing with no confidence and it’s coming back to bite him as even his defensive game has taken a slide. If this continues much longer, there’s no point in keeping him up with Montreal even to finish this season.
3) Playing Mike Brown over Lucas Lessio. One is a prospect, the other is a player claimed on waivers to fill a roster spot yet the latter is playing more. Lessio’s speed is causing teams fits but he seemingly can do no right in the eyes of the coaches. If it’s time to play the youngsters, how about actually playing the youngster here? Or have they already given up on Lessio being an option moving forward and are evaluating Brown for that spot instead? Boy, I hope that’s not true.
|25||Jacob de la Rose||3||0||0||-3||0||3||39:30|
Goals: Alex Galchenyuk (25)
Assists: P.K. Subban (45)
Points: Pacioretty/Subban (51)
+/-: Brendan Gallagher (+11)
PIMS: P.K. Subban (75)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (258)
After a 2-2 week, the IceCaps find themselves just two points behind Portland for the final playoff spot in the West. The problem? The Pirates have three games in hand and St. John’s also has to leap frog Rochester and Hartford. They have a lot of work to do and not much time left to do it.
News and Notes:
– Andrew Yogan’s point streak since signing came to an end on Sunday afternoon. He had picked up a point in each of his first five games with the team.
– Eddie Pasquale falls just one game shy of having enough minutes to officially qualify for the mark but he sits tied for sixth overall in the AHL in save percentage.
– Gabriel Dumont matched his career high in assists (set last season) with 25.
– With Houston’s Mike Reilly now up in the NHL, Nikita Scherbak now has the active ‘lead’ for the worst plus/minus among AHL rookies. He’s at -23 in just 35 games played.
– Lines from last game:
Scherbak – Dumont – Holloway
McNally – Yogan – Friberg
Bozon – MacMillan – Gregoire
Scott – Miceli – Ranger
Hanley – Johnston
Bennett – Ellis
Didier – Lernout
Goals: Charles Hudon (20)
Assists: Bud Holloway (34)
Points: Bud Holloway (52)
+/-: Daniel Carr (+7)
PIMS: Michael McCarron (82)
Shots: Bud Holloway (152)
March 18: St. John’s vs Utica
March 19: St. John’s vs Syracuse
March 20: St. John’s vs Syracuse
We all know that the NHL’s Trade Deadline has come and gone but it’s not so well known that the AHL’s version of the deadline came and went this past Monday. Several useful veteran players changed teams (mostly for future considerations or more specifically, nothing) as squads looked to help out their playoff push. Marc Bergevin once again passed on adding help for St. John’s which, to me, makes absolutely no sense.
I can understand (though I disagree with) the rationale to not carry many veterans in the hopes of playing the youngsters more. That’s fine for the beginning of the season but given the multitude of injuries – and there are injuries every year which is why I disagree with that rationale – that’s not really a concern here. The IceCaps are cycling through ECHL guys on tryout deals. Adding deadline help wouldn’t be pushing the prospects out of the lineup, they’d be pushing out some of the ECHL fillers. In other words, they could have made the team better without taking playing time away from anyone of consequence or even giving up anything. They could have done that and actually chose not to help themselves.
Bergevin chose to not make the team better and give the prospects that remain down there a chance to play more (or least in some more meaningful games down the stretch). This, after three straight years of playoff misses. Why does Montreal’s management care so little about their prospects getting playoff experience? It’s great for their development, it keeps them playing in the spring months, and it teaches them about playing in a winning environment. I guess Bergevin doesn’t see it the same way. I just can’t figure out why. It’s another opportunity squandered for development, one of many we’ve seen in the AHL over the last few years.