Montreal’s offensive struggles continued this past week but a better outing on Saturday coupled with Carey Price’s return at least salvaged a win. In Laval, their offensive struggles continued as well but they weren’t as fortunate as they lost all three of their games.
Karl Alzner: He hasn’t gotten off to a great start to the season and he hasn’t taken advantage of the chance to move up the depth chart with Shea Weber out of the lineup. Jordie Benn is instead making the case for more ice time and it’s never ideal to see a third-pairing defender outperforming the top free agent acquisition. Alzner has had enough time to fit in that the rationale that he’s adapting to a new system doesn’t fly too much now. The Habs are counting on him to play a big role and it’s time for him to deliver.
Joe Morrow: His play in his own end certainly won’t inspire confidence but he is certainly making the most of his opportunity. Morrow’s offensive instincts are pretty good for a blueliner and with the Habs struggling to score in general, they need all of the scoring help they can get. Is he a top-six player the rest of the way? Probably not, but he has done enough to move himself up a notch or two on the depth chart.
Antti Niemi: His goaltending technique against Nashville was far from pretty but it was pretty effective overall. I’m in the group that would like to see Charlie Lindgren recalled to spot start at times when Carey Price needs a night off but Niemi has certainly earned another start. He’ll likely get it this week coming up with a back-to-back set although that means he’ll suit up against a division rival.
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Goals: Brendan Gallagher (9)
Assists: Jonathan Drouin (12)
Points: Jonathan Drouin (15)
+/-: Tomas Plekanec (+3)
PIMS: Andrew Shaw (28)
Shots: Max Pacioretty (104)
The wheels have started to come off offensively for Laval as they managed just two goals in each of their three games and weren’t able to pull out a single win. Their early-season cushion in the standings is starting to dwindle.
News and Notes:
– Brampton blueliner Willie Corrin signed a PTO. With Jakub Jerabek now up with Montreal (plus David Schlemko’s conditioning stint being over), the depth on the back end is pretty thin.
– Defenceman Noah Juulsen is nearing a return to action. He skated with the team this week and they’re hoping he’ll be ready to make his season debut on Wednesday night.
– Centre Markus Eisenschmid has also started to skate as he recovers from his lower-body injury. The team is hopeful he’ll be ready to return in the near future as well.
– Lines from last game:
Carr – Holland – Terry
Audette – McCarron – Gregoire
Veilleux – Petti – Baun
Boucher – Ebbing – Waked
Schlemko – Taormina
Parisi – Lernout
Gelinas – Leblanc
November 21: Manitoba 3, Laval 2 (SO)
November 24: Utica 3, Laval 2
November 25: Utica 3, Laval 2 (SO)
Shootout – Skaters:
Shootout – Goalies:
Goals: Daniel Carr (11)
Assists: Matt Taormina (17)
Points: Matt Taormina (19)
+/-: Jakub Jerabek (+10)
PIMS: David Broll (35)
Shots: Chris Terry (56)
November 29: Laval vs Belleville
December 1: Laval vs Syracuse
December 2: Laval vs Lehigh Valley
Torrey Mitchell’s trade to the Kings didn’t come as much of a surprise and considering the lack of a role that he had, Marc Bergevin didn’t do half bad getting what could wind up being a pick in the top half of the draft for someone they weren’t using. That said, I’m still a little confused as to how we got to this point.
Mitchell had been a staple on the fourth line for a couple of years and did relatively well in that role. Then Claude Julien came in and he became a lot less important of a player. Why? Mitchell’s game didn’t drastically change either way when the coaching change happened but instead of being a regular, he was a rotational player at best and this season, he was getting benched in favour of clearly lesser players. Montreal’s fourth line seems to be diminishing in importance and is currently being filled by two safe players with little offensive upside and a tough guy with no offensive upside. This isn’t a decade ago where the fourth line was just there to hit people and hopefully not get scored on. Some skill is needed and it’s arguable that Mitchell had more skill than anyone currently skating there. Here’s hoping this isn’t a sign that the Habs are just going to throw whoever out there on the fourth line and hope for the best. This team isn’t skilled enough to do that.