The Habs ended their season on a winning note but weren’t able to stay healthy in the final week with Alexei Emelin going down with a lower body injury. In St. John’s, the IceCaps squandered some chances but remain right in the thick of the playoff race heading into their last two games.
Charlie Lindgren: It may not have been pretty at times (which lines up with his style of play; he’s not a typical technical goalie) but he was effective in both of his starts and undoubtedly has made an impression on not only the organization but also the players. If the unfortunate happens again and Carey Price gets hurt, Lindgren showed that he can hold his own if they have to call on him at some point. With the two games being largely meaningless, that’s a pretty good accomplishment on his part.
Michael McCarron: He’s not exactly rewarding the organization’s faith in him by not sending him down after the trade deadline. When he’s in the lineup, he’s contributing very little and his offensive skills look more or less non-existent at this point. He’s likely on the outside looking in at a roster spot to start the playoffs but he had plenty of chances to earn a regular role, making it a disappointing end to the regular season for him.
Mikhail Sergachev: I liked the decision to bring him back for the final game. Not only did it keep St. John’s lineup intact as they push for a playoff spot but it was a chance to see how he shapes up against mostly NHL players after another junior campaign. He didn’t look too good unfortunately. He’s young and he’s going to be a very good player but unless he takes some big strides in the offseason, it’s hard to think he’s going to be ready for full-time NHL duty next year.
Goals: Max Pacioretty (35)
Assists: Alexander Radulov (36)
Points: Max Pacioretty (67)
+/-: Paul Byron (+21)
PIMS: Andrew Shaw (110)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (268)
St. John’s went into the week in a dog fight for a playoff spot and come out of it with not much having really changed. They won one of their two must-win games (beating Utica while losing to Albany) and sit three points up on the Comets with two games to go for the final playoff spot. However, Utica has a game in hand.
News and Notes:
– Joel Hanley (illness) missed all three games in the 3-in-3 set over the weekend. Daniel Carr (head) missed all four games and there’s no word yet if he’ll be ready to play in their final two games.
– The team signed centre Niki Petti to an ATO for the remainder of the season plus a minor league deal for next year. He spent this past season alongside 2016 draft pick Will Bitten with Hamilton of the OHL.
– With the illness to Hanley and Brett Lernout spending time with Montreal, St. John’s inked Brampton blueliner Tim Billingsley to a PTO. They also recalled Guillaume Asselin from the Beast. Neither player got into a game.
– Lines from last game:
Hudon – Terry – Scherbak
Matteau – de la Rose – Friberg
Veilleux – Audette – Farnham
Broll – Petti – Camara
Redmond – Brouillette
Parisi – Lernout
Lowe – Didier
|20||Jacob de la Rose||4||1||1||+1||5||4|
Goals: Chris Terry (28)
Assists: Chris Terry (37)
Points: Chris Terry (65)
+/-: Hanley/Lowe (+11)
PIMS: Bobby Farnham (137)
Shots: Chris Terry (182)
April 14: Toronto vs St. John’s
April 15: Toronto vs St. John’s
Heading into the playoffs, Alex Galchenyuk’s struggles seem to be dominating the discussion. Personally, I don’t think it stems from his move to the wing either. He’s a streaky player at either position and if he rediscovers his touch in time for the playoffs, he could be a huge threat.
Failing that, he needs to find a way to not become so invisible when he’s not scoring. His defensive game can stand to improve, as can his intensity and physical play. Improvements in those areas will give him a longer leash and keep him more involved in the game. It feels like Claude Julien is starting to run low on patience with him as well so the time is now for Galchenyuk to rediscover his touch or at least do some of the other little things to keep him from dropping any further in the lineup.
With hockey being the ultimate team sport, it’s hard to suggest that the playoffs matter more for some players than others but that is the case with Galchenyuk. If he rebounds this postseason, he can restore some of the value he’s losing on the new contract he’s slated to sign this summer. If not, he’ll likely look back on these past several weeks (plus the playoffs) and really wonder, ‘What if?’ The pressure’s certainly on; let’s see how he responds.