The postseason came to an end with a resounding thud for the Habs, who dropped three straight to finish their season on a very frustrating note. In St. John’s, the IceCaps managed a split in their first two games but Game Two certainly ended on a frustrating note for them as well.
Artturi Lehkonen: I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Lehkonen in his first NHL playoff series. Yes, he finished the regular season on a high note and his play last year in the SHL postseason is well known but those aren’t the same as a seven game set against an NHL team. I also had some concerns that the extra physical play could be an issue for him. It wasn’t and the rookie certainly stepped up his game. He took some steps forward under Claude Julien and while things are far from optimistic at the moment, his play is one positive heading into the offseason.
Max Pacioretty: Honestly, I don’t think he was as bad in most of the games as some made him out to be. Yes, he played on the perimeter a lot but that has been his game for a while now; to expect him to really change that was a mistake. That said, the NHL is a results-driven league and he failed to deliver. Pacioretty has been a streaky player for years now but he picked the worst time to have a cold spell. This is going to sting for him for quite a while.
Carey Price: He didn’t have a bad series by any stretch but he also didn’t make too many of the crucial and timely saves that he has shown himself to be capable of over the years which has shone the spotlight on him a fair bit. Price is a little culpable in the end result but he’s taking a bit too much of the heat. It’s hard to win when the offence fails to produce most of the time and that’s where the Habs found themselves. Accordingly, that’s where most of the blame needs to sit, not with Price.
Goals: Lehkonen/Radulov (2)
Assists: Alexander Radulov (5)
Points: Alexander Radulov (7)
+/-: 4 tied with (+1)
PIMS: Andrei Markov (10)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (28)
It was an encouraging weekend as well as a discouraging one for St. John’s. They took the opener of their series against Syracuse which was nice but they blew a two goal lead late in the third period in Game Two, eventually losing in double overtime (they had two goals waved off in the first OT as well). The series now shifts to the road for the rest of the way meaning that the IceCaps will have to take two of three on the road to move on.
News and Notes:
– The IceCaps signed defenceman Victor Mete to an ATO contract and also added Noah Juulsen who was sent down by Montreal. (As Juulsen is technically under contract for this season, he could be assigned while Mete’s deal doesn’t officially start until next year meaning that he needed to sign the tryout.)
– Daniel Carr (head/concussion) was skating with the team midway through the week but evidently has not yet received the green light to return to the lineup.
– St. John’s won’t get much help from the Habs now that their postseason is over as only Michael McCarron is eligible to return to the team after being ‘papered’ back and recalled at the trade deadline.
– Lines from last game:
Hudon – Terry – Scherbak
Matteau – de la Rose – Friberg
Veilleux – Audette – Farnham
MacMillan – Petti – Camara
Hanley – Redmond
Brouillette – Lernout
Lowe – Didier
|20||Jacob de la Rose||2||1||1||E||6||6|
Goals: 5 tied with (1)
Assists: Friberg/Hudon (2)
Points: Charles Hudon (3)
+/-: Hudon/Scherbak/Terry (+1)
PIMS: Jacob de la Rose (6)
Shots: Matteau/Terry (9)
Remaining Round 1 Schedule:
April 26: St. John’s vs Syracuse
April 28: St. John’s vs Syracuse
April 29: St. John’s vs Syracuse
It’s amazing how much can change in just a single week in the playoffs. At this time a week ago, the Habs looked like they were in good shape with home ice restored and the team showing some signs that they had figured out how to attack the Rangers. Evidently, that wasn’t the case as they’re now heading home.
The days, weeks, and even months ahead will dissect the series and what needs to be done next. Before really thinking about that, I wanted to reflect on the series itself. Aside from the final game which was a bit of a clunker (and not just because Montreal lost), this was one of the most evenly-contested series I’ve seen the Habs be a part of in a long time. There were peaks and valleys on both sides and there weren’t many glaring differences in terms of overall play. Despite the way it ended, it was quite the interesting matchup to watch. Too bad it will be the last Canadiens action we see for nearly six months.