The Habs were looking to head into the bye on a positive note and pretty much failed miserably at doing so. Things were better in St. John’s though as they picked up two road wins against the top two teams in the AHL.
Michael McCarron: I know he’s trying to do everything he can to stick with the team full-time but I don’t think fighting is the way to do it. For him to take that last step (and he’s getting closer each time), the team will want to see improved skating, better endurance, and more touch around the net on top of his physical play. If he improves in even one or two of those areas, he’ll make much more of a positive impression than dropping the gloves whenever he gets the chance.
Tomas Plekanec: I thought he was set to rebound in the second half of the season but there is a level of feebleness to his offensive game that wasn’t there as recently as last year. He was never a high end shooter but his shots have no zip to them now. That doesn’t exactly provide much cause for hope that he can turn it around for the stretch run.
Carey Price: I think it’s time to be getting worried. Two subpar weeks is a small blip but two subpar months is legitimate cause for concern. His positioning is off, he’s not tracking pucks well, and he’s reacting way too slowly, especially on cross-crease plays. He’s good enough to overcome struggling in one of those areas and still win but not all of them. I’m not even worried about him returning to elite status at the moment…I’d settle for consistent good play as that should be enough to help turn things around.
Goals: Max Pacioretty (28)
Assists: Alexander Radulov (28)
Points: Max Pacioretty (50)
+/-: Shea Weber (+13)
PIMS: Andrew Shaw (95)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (183)
The IceCaps fared well in the second week of their road trip despite facing the top two teams in the league. They beat the league-leading Penguins for the second straight week while splitting a pair against Lehigh Valley, the number two squad.
News and Notes:
– Charles Hudon has vastly improved his goal scoring pace compared to last season where he finished tied for fourth in goals league-wide. He picked up his 16th goal in 30 games this past week; it took him 46 to reach that mark last season.
– Bobby Farnham has a new career high in points set in a single season with 16. His previous high was 14 back in 2014-15 (and he has played 17 fewer games this season than the 62 he suited up in that year).
– Lines from last game:
Hudon – Terry – Scherbak
Veilleux – de la Rose – Friberg
Matteau – Audette – Farnham
Broll – MacMillan – Camara
Hanley – Redmond
Brouillette – Johnston
Parisi – Lernout
|20||Jacob de la Rose||2||0||0||-3||4||2|
Goals: Hudon/Terry (16)
Assists: Chris Terry (25)
Points: Chris Terry (41)
+/-: Brett Lernout (+7)
PIMS: Bobby Farnham (105)
Shots: Chris Terry (89)
February 14: Binghamton vs St. John’s
February 15: Binghamton vs St. John’s
February 18: Syracuse vs St. John’s
February 19: Syracuse vs St. John’s
With the Habs basically off all week, I’m going to talk a bit about the IceCaps in this spot for a change. (For those who were hoping for some thoughts on Michel Therrien, be sure to check the site later this week when we have a Therrien-specific Writers Weigh In column.)
There are still 26 games and two months left in St. John’s season but their upcoming home stand will likely make or break their year as odd as that sounds considering how much time is left. They begin with a pair of games against Binghamton, a team chasing them for the final playoff spot. They’ll get to face the Baby Sens with the best roster they’ve had since the beginning of the season with the Habs on their bye. A pair of wins would make the gap between them jump to double digits which would be huge. I’d go as far as to call these must-win games. Then they get a pair against Syracuse and two against Albany, two of the teams they’re chasing in the division. If they drop these games, they can forget about trying to move up in the standings which will leave them scrambling to hold on to the last spot for pretty much six weeks which is a tall task. (Yes, Toronto’s in third but it’s more likely that they keep moving up over them going on another big losing streak.)
It has been said many times that Marc Bergevin is all-in this season. If that is indeed the case, the IceCaps will likely feel the brunt of whatever move(s) he makes. There’s a very good chance that by the time they play their next road game (March 3rd) that a couple of key contributors will be gone. With that in mind, they need a big two weeks here to give them a cushion to work with knowing that their talent level is likely going to take a big dip in the near future. It’s only mid-February but the pressure is certainly on.