The Habs followed up a lacklustre week with one of their best ones of the year to end the month of March on a high note. In St. John’s, the IceCaps split their two games to hold onto a playoff spot by a slim margin with just two weeks to go in their season.
Nathan Beaulieu: I’m not exactly sure what got into him but over the last couple of games playing alongside Alexei Emelin, he looks like a different player out there. He’s more assertive with the puck on his stick and seemed to be more active in terms of pinching. His defensive deficiencies were still there but if he’s generating more offensive opportunities, those are easier to stomach. When Jordie Benn returns, it will be worth watching to see if they give this duo a longer look. I’d say it’s worthy of a few more games.
Tomas Plekanec: Slowly but surely, the veteran is starting to show a few more signs of life. With Paul Byron and Brendan Gallagher on the wings, their speed has allowed Plekanec to become the trailer on the attack and given his declining speed, that’s a good use for him. He’s still not playing anywhere near a $6 million level but over these past few weeks, he has been more of a consistent contributor at least.
Andrew Shaw: While some would suggest that Carey Price has benefited the most from the coaching change, I’d suggest it’s Shaw. Under Claude Julien, he has been a much more disciplined player for starters instead of taking a bunch of bad penalties. In terms of his points per game average, it’s practically the same since Michel Therrien’s departure but it’s fair to suggest he has been more involved in that aspect of the game as well. Many have been waiting for the playoffs to see the player that was a key cog for Chicago but Shaw has had a nice run heading into the postseason as well.
Goals: Max Pacioretty (35)
Assists: Alexander Radulov (35)
Points: Max Pacioretty (66)
+/-: Byron/Weber (+20)
PIMS: Andrew Shaw (108)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (262)
There are just some teams that give St. John’s a hard time. Binghamton, who the IceCaps faced in both games this past week, is one of them, despite the fact that they have been at or near the bottom of the division for a big chunk of the season. St. John’s was at least able to split those two matchups and hold on to a playoff spot for the time being in the process.
News and Notes:
– Zach Redmond returned to the lineup after missing the last three games with an undisclosed injury. Ryan Johnston took his place as a healthy scratch.
– Daniel Carr suffered a head injury on Friday night. Although he will travel with the team on their upcoming four game road trip, he has been ruled out of the lineup for at least the next week.
– Zach Fucale is back with the IceCaps after being reassigned by the Canadiens to allow Charlie Lindgren to come back up. If Lindgren isn’t back by the time they start their 3-in-3 stretch on Friday, there’s a good chance he’ll make his first appearance with St. John’s since mid-October.
– Lines from last game:
Hudon – Terry – Scherbak
Matteau – de la Rose – Friberg
Veilleux – Audette – Farnham
Broll – Eisenschmid – Gregoire
Hanley – Lernout
Lowe – Johnston
Brouillette – Didier
|20||Jacob de la Rose||2||2||0||E||9||2|
Goals: Chris Terry (27)
Assists: Chris Terry (33)
Points: Chris Terry (60)
+/-: Joel Hanley (+14)
PIMS: Bobby Farnham (135)
Shots: Chris Terry (170)
April 4: St. John’s vs Toronto
April 7: St. John’s vs Albany
April 8: St. John’s vs Binghamton
April 9: St. John’s vs Utica
Shawn Thornton had some strong comments regarding Alexei Emelin following Montreal’s 6-2 victory. While many quickly dismissed them, I think there is a bit of truth in what he said, even if it didn’t come across the best in the end. I wouldn’t call Emelin a predatory player but he’s someone that plays on the edge and does go past it from time to time. His circumstances (the steel plates in his head) prevent him from dropping the gloves but whether you agree with it or not, the ‘code’ is out there and remains highly prevalent today. Since Emelin knows he can’t really fight, he shouldn’t be pushing the envelope too often, especially knowing there will be opposing players who will be looking to make him answer for it. He’s an effective enough physical player that he doesn’t need to run around looking for the big hit on a regular basis. Given his struggles recently, his focus might be better served working out the kinks in his defensive game, particularly his positioning. A small drop in his physical play and a few less ‘grey zone’ hits wouldn’t be too big of a loss if it resulted in more dependable defensive zone play in the end.