Although the week featured an outright embarrassing defeat, the Habs still managed to win two of three and remain atop the NHL standings. In St. John’s, the IceCaps had a strong finish to their home stand, taking three of their four games.
Paul Byron: Not surprisingly, his scoring touch has dried up. That’s not to take away from the work he’s doing in his own end as he’s still certainly helping in that regard. However, with the team struggling to score with consistency, he shouldn’t be seeing comparable ice time to Alexander Radulov and Alex Galchenyuk. Byron is a high end fourth liner who can pass as a serviceable third liner, not someone who should be getting similar minutes to two of the top scorers on the team.
Alexei Emelin: While he doesn’t exactly have the playing style that would seem to complement Shea Weber well (in fact, it could be argued that he’s the exact opposite of what a team might want paired with him), I’ve been surprised with how well Emelin has held up on the top pairing so far. From a value perspective, he’s far from a bargain but if he can continue to hold his own in tough minutes with Weber, this will be the closest he has come to living up to his contract since he signed it a few years ago.
Brendan Gallagher: While players like Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec have been singled out for their recent struggles, Gallagher is quietly in a bit of a slump of his own, going six straight without a goal. Although he was a bit more involved against the Flyers, I’d suggest he hasn’t been his usual energetic self lately either. Slumps come and go for everyone and I have little doubt he’ll get going again so I’m not too worried; maybe being reunited with Pacioretty/Plekanec, a line that was together a lot last season, gets him back on track.
Goals: Torrey Mitchell (5)
Assists: Alex Galchenyuk (7)
Points: Alex Galchenyuk (11)
+/-: Shea Weber (+15)
PIMS: Radulov/Shaw (18)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (36)
It was a solid week on home ice for St. John’s as they took three of four games against division rivals while getting strong goaltending from Charlie Lindgren.
News and Notes:
– Jacob de la Rose (finger) and Max Friberg (undisclosed injury) both returned to the lineup for the games against Toronto.
– Stefan Matteau scored his first non-empty net goal of the season on Sunday versus the Marlies while Michael McCarron picked up his first goal of the year the night before.
– With Joel Hanley up in Montreal, St. John’s signed defenceman Julien Brouillette to a PTO deal. If he plays, he’ll be the first player to play for both versions of the franchise, as he spent a season with the IceCaps when they were Winnipeg’s AHL affiliate.
– Lines from last game:
Andrighetto – Terry – Friberg
Hudon – Audette – Scherbak
Matteau – McCarron – de la Rose
Broll – Eisenschmid – Farnham
Barberio – Didier
Samuelsson – Johnston
Racine – Lernout
|20||Jacob de la Rose||2||0||0||+2||0||6|
Goals: Charles Hudon (8)
Assists: Mark Barberio (9)
Points: Chris Terry (13)
+/-: Joel Hanley (+5)
PIMS: Michael McCarron (28)
Shots: Andrighetto/Hudon (33)
November 11: St. John’s vs Springfield
November 12: St. John’s vs Albany
Despite winning two of their three games, this past week saw the pattern of slow starts continue. It’s one thing to have some struggles in the first period here and there. It’s a long season and it’s bound to happen here and there but the fact that it has happened this often this early is certainly cause for concern. Is it a motivation issue? Are they not prepared enough come puck drop and are getting by on good goaltending and in-game adjustments later on? Whatever the reasoning may be, it’s something that needs to be corrected quickly. The Habs are fortunate enough to have Carey Price between the pipes (and even Al Montoya as a backup is one of the better ones in the league, his last game notwithstanding) but they shouldn’t be continually relying on them as a crutch until they find their skating legs. If they want to stay atop the standings, they need to find a way to come out playing a lot harder with a lot more consistency and fast. It’s time for them to starting punching first, so to speak, instead of countering almost all of the time.